Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 2, 2021
There may be progress at last on opening the Alachua Street railroad crossing.
At their June 1, 2021 Regular Meeting the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) unanimously voted to approve the Stipulation of Parties between the City of Fernandina Beach, First Coast Railroad, and the State of Florida Department of Transportation to open the long-closed Alachua Street railroad crossing, thereby allowing both pedestrians and vehicles to safely travel between Alachua Street and Front Street.
Since 2005, the City has formally pursued the opportunity to re-open the Alachua Street railroad crossing at N. Front Street. The City and railroad officials agreed to a Stipulation of Parties in 2005 to open the Alachua Street crossing. Due to inaction by the City, the 2005 Stipulation of Parties expired in 2010, but a five- year extension to 2015 was authorized. When the City by 2015 had again failed to act under the terms of the Stipulation of Parties, another requested extension was denied by railroad officials.
With the assistance of Florida Department of Transportation officials, the City and railroad officials have re- drafted the proposed Stipulation of Parties to again open the Alachua Street crossing at N. Front Street.
The project involves a proposed two-way crossing that would connect the western-most end of Alachua Street to N. Front Street. The Alachua Street rail crossing is a critical component of the City’s efforts to revitalize its downtown waterfront area. This project will enable the City to improve the downtown traffic circulation and provide an additional public access point to the Amelia River. Related to the actual crossing project will be additional improvements on Alachua Street between N. Front Street and N. 2nd Street (specifically stormwater and streetscape improvements to assist with development efforts in the area).
Funding for the crossing and improvements related to Alachua Street will be presented in the proposed 2021/2022 budget. A previous estimate for the project was $800,000. The City Engineer will review and provide a new estimate to incorporate into the proposed budget.