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2013 Award of Merit - Transit in Parks: Reconnecting the Castillo and the Bayfront
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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

Landscape Architect:  Jeremy Marquis, RLA, LEED AP BD+C , Marquis Halback, Inc.

(www.halback.com) 

Owner: 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

This 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 separates.

Improving Pedestrian Connections

Of 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.

The 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 visitors.

Reducing the Impact of SR A1A

The 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.

Credits: 

Client: Mark Knight, Planning & Building Director, John Regan, PE, City Manager, City of St. Augustine

 Sponsoring Agency (National Park Service): Gordon "Gordie” J. Wilson, Superintendent, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

 Landscape Architect (Project Lead): Frederick Halback, FASLA, RLA, CLARB, Marquis Halback, Inc.

 Landscape Designers: Fremont Latimer, ASLA, ISA Certified Arborist, Caeli Tolar, Marquis Halback, Inc.

 Transportation Planning: Mark Hardgrove, Planning Innovations, Inc. 

Transportation Engineering: J. Anthony "Tony” Luke, Luke Transportation Engineering Consultants, Inc. 

Civil Engineering: Quoc Mai, PE, MAI Engineering Services, Inc. 

Coastal Engineering: Grant Misterly, PE, Applied Technology & Management

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MISSION STATEMENT Leading, educating, and participating in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.
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