Jacksonville Steps Ahead | Landscape Architecture Magazine

Jacksonville Steps Ahead | Landscape Architecture Magazine

Florida’s Emerald Path strides toward a more walkable future.

By Margaret Shakespeare

An open trail within a park
The path will develop connections to the h2o and present prospects for character-centered participate in. Courtesy Groundwork Jacksonville.

McCoys Creek Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida, is a big thoroughfare that progressively is closed to targeted visitors mainly because of flooding, even after a regime afternoon shower. It’s one particular of lots of spots in the town that, because of to growing older infrastructure like undersized pipes and inadequate drainage—particularly in more mature residential neighborhoods—now encounters long-term flooding gatherings.

To handle these infrastructure demands and help lessen the city’s reliance on vehicular transportation, in 2019, the Town of Jacksonville formally adopted a prepare to establish the Emerald Path, a 30-mile community that will extend and link the handful of pedestrian pathways that have been constructed around the many years, which include the Northbank and Southbank Riverwalks on the St. Johns River.

Led by a public–private partnership in between the metropolis and Groundwork Jacksonville, aspect of a countrywide nonprofit trust network, the bold multiuse path process will offer direct relationship concerning 14 near-in neighborhoods, linking much more than a dozen faculties and faculties, parks, and hospitals.

“The Emerald Path breaks down the invisible limitations that independent neighborhoods. This invitations curiosity and sales opportunities to a socially and physically linked Jacksonville,” claims Andrew Kohr, ASLA, a principal and director of landscape architecture at Pond & Company, which has led the style and design of the Emerald Path for Groundwork Jacksonville.

A map of Jacksonville's Emerald Trail
When full, the 30-mile Emerald Trail will link 14 historic downtown neighborhoods. Courtesy Groundwork Jacksonville.

Adjacent advancements include the restoration of McCoys and Hogans Creeks, tributaries of St. Johns River, and the redesign of McCoys Creek Boulevard. These efforts have motivated community involvement, which include creek cleanup volunteers and an apprentice landscape design and style youth system termed Environmentally friendly Staff Youth Corps. The software, which serves youngsters ages 13–18, is run by Groundwork Jacksonville. Emerald Trail initiatives have involved creating a pollinator backyard garden and a tiny fruit orchard.

Kohr is at present concentrating on the almost finished a person-and-a-half-mile Emerald Trail portion by way of the LaVilla community. The segment will link to the current 3-mile S-Line path (a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy task) and established the stage
for the following segment, alongside Hogan Avenue, where there are undersized pipes to be upgraded. Further drainage to manage stormwater is also needed. “It’s [been] block-by-block solutions. Micro-
solutions with a very similar aesthetic,” Kohr says of the venture, which is projected to be total by decade’s stop.

The Model Mile

The LaVilla segment is staying dealt with as a multipurpose “model mile,” informing Kohr’s other structure do the job, building advertising momentum, and introducing the Emerald Path and its benefits to adjacent communities. “Our target was not to insert any new structures,” Kohr states. “We noticed a collection of experiences—parks, a pond, a bridge—and connecting opportunities.” The team seemed to activate forgotten areas and include multifunctional features, and along the path, strategically planted shade trees present habitat, mitigate heat, and further manage stormwater.

Performing with the city and the Florida Office of Transportation, Kohr’s team also reconfigured the Park Avenue Bridge from four vehicular lanes to two, allowing for for the trail as well as 8 ft of buffer house with shade structures, elevated seating, and skyline vistas. “The neat section about the bridge was to get people to think about how to retrofit roadways within just the existing infrastructure,” Kohr claims. “The value cost savings are tremendous. More asphalt equals a lot more impervious surface, which equals an raise in infrastructure wants for stormwater conveyance. We need to have to appropriate-dimension streets and retrofit cities with street weight loss plans. Applying what we have superior is wiser and far more fiscally liable.”

Margaret Shakespeare is a freelance contributor to Landscape Architecture Magazine.