Project Category: Planning and Analysis
Project Name: Transit in Parks: Reconnecting the
Castillo and the Bayfront
Project Location: St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Date of Completion: Phase 1 planning - August 2011 - Phase 2 implementation - in progress
Architect: Jeremy Marquis,
RLA, LEED AP BD+C , Marquis Halback,
City of St. Augustine
St. Augustine, originally laid out in 1565 with narrow streets and small lots, now boasts 4,000,000 visitors to this community of 13,000 residents. On the eve of the 450th Commemoration in 2015, the landscape architect has been leading a team of planners, engineers, city staff, and hundreds of stakeholders in addressing the continual struggle of circulation, parking, and access in the historic downtown.
A Holistic Approach to St. Augustine’s Challenges
is the first time in recent history that destination traffic to the Castillo de
San Marcos National Monument, traffic to the historic downtown, and
thru-traffic on SR A1A has been addressed
and analyzed in a holistic manner. The landscape architect identified
the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks program, a joint FTA / NPS grant focused on improving mobility in and
around National Park sites. St. Augustine is a unique recipient, as the
Castillo de San Marcos is urban in context, and the primary alternative mode of
transportation is pedestrian. The team focused on three main areas: (1) improving pedestrian connections between
the Downtown Transportation Facility, the Castillo, and the historic downtown,
(2) reducing the visual impact of the
four-lane A1A bisecting the Castillo from the city, and (3) improving the bayfront that A1A
Improving Pedestrian Connections
the nearly 750,000 annual visitors to the Castillo, nearly one-third of these visitors (237,000) cross A1A north of the two lighted crossings.
Orange Street, connecting the Transportation Facility and the Castillo, does
not have a crossing. Although this is a clear need, many business owners
believed this could allow visitors to bypass their shops on St. George Street.
The extensive public participation
program, including a full-access project website, interactive surveys,
SketchUp fly-thru models, and numerous public meetings, proved critical for
building support, and the City Commission endorsed the signal.
planning effort is already resulting in
implementation of phase 1. The new pedestrian signal will be installed
in 2013, along with additional improvements to Orange Street. Traffic studies
prove that west-bound traffic is more significant (1,600 ADT) than east-bound
(800 ADT). The City Commission endorsed closing east-bound traffic to general
vehicular traffic. This will now be transformed into a brick transit lane for horse carriages, trolley
trams, and public transit, along with expanding sidewalks on either
side. The final element of the Orange Street rehabilitation will be the reconstruction of the defensive "Cubo” line,
which extends the line from the Castillo and functions as a visual cue for
Reducing the Impact of SR A1A
analysis of SR A1A showed that, while two south-bound lanes are necessary, only one north-bound lane is needed to move
the same amount of traffic. In fact, traffic analysis proves that
eliminating the second lane, along with rerouting horse carriages to a
south-bound loop, will improve traffic flow by eliminating friction. This lane diet will enable expanded sidewalks on
each side of SR A1A while maintaining the same overall footprint. This
is a critical element to protect the
historic resource of the Castillo de San Marcos’ earthen "glasis.”
Improving the Bayfront
The bayfront has suffered since the 1956 "modernization” of A1A to four
lanes. Survey data shows visitors want to experience the water, but there are
few opportunities to do so. The plan reduces on-street parking along the east
side of A1A, opening the view of the
St. Augustine Inlet and creating a communal event lawn. A promenade is
expanded along the seawall, while boardwalks
are reestablished for the first time in nearly 70 years. ADA pathways
are integrated into the stairs to minimize railings. Native plantings, such as
Southern Red Cedars (Juniperus
silicicola) and Cabbage Palms (Sabal
palmetto), frame the view, and bioswales
are incorporated to provide initial treatment of roadway stormwater,
which currently runs directly into the Matanzas River. The city is currently in
discussions with FDOT regarding funding.
Client: Mark Knight, Planning & Building Director, John Regan, PE, City Manager, City of St. Augustine
Agency (National Park Service): Gordon "Gordie” J. Wilson, Superintendent, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Architect (Project Lead): Frederick Halback, FASLA, RLA, CLARB, Marquis Halback, Inc.
Designers: Fremont Latimer, ASLA, ISA Certified Arborist, Caeli Tolar, Marquis Halback, Inc.
Planning: Mark Hardgrove, Planning Innovations, Inc.
Engineering: J. Anthony "Tony” Luke, Luke Transportation Engineering Consultants, Inc.
Engineering: Quoc Mai, PE, MAI Engineering Services, Inc.
Engineering: Grant Misterly, PE, Applied Technology & Management