The North Florida Transportation Planning Organization and its partners evaluated regional goods movement and infrastructure needs as part of a phased, comprehensive, integrated, and intermodal approach to meeting the future freight and logistics needs of Northeast Florida. As part of this process, RS&H identified a new rail alignment within the Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) vicinity to connect marine terminals and the proposed Intermodal Container Transfer Facility east of I-95 to the mainline. This study represents a follow-up planning study to the Future Rail Corridors Study (completed in 2012).
The new alignment provides several benefits:
- Reduces the number of at-grade road crossings to JAXPORT marine terminals from 44 to 22
- Eliminates 28 at-grade crossings to the Port of Fernandina
- Reduces distance to the Port of Fernandina by more than 11 miles
- Opens up hundreds of acres of new industrial lands for economic development
- Links marine port facilities with rail lines, interstate highways, and potential airport facilities, providing a unique opportunity for the region
The team evaluated conceptual designs of typical rail alignments as they relate to land-use assessment and rail infrastructure proximity to ensure land-use compatibility. RS&H worked closely with members of the stakeholder committee and the public to ensure that developed concepts would be suitable to all parties involved. Most of the criteria used in the analysis was quantitative, so analysis required data integration with GIS-based spatial analysis tools.
This study has decreased the number of potential rail alignments from more than 17 to two. In addition, RS&H was selected to continue the next phase of this effort, which will further evaluate the remaining alignments though an alternative analysis planning phase. The team will consider existing conditions as well as additional engineering and cost considerations in order to identify a single, preferred alignment within the north area/JIA corridor.