Jacksonville is inching closer to being in the autonomous vehicles business.
Thursday afternoon, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority board signed off on hiring Balfour Beatty to oversee the first phase of the Ultimate Urban Circulator program.
The company’s team will include Jacksonville-based Superior Construction Company Southeast and Miller Electric as well as Beep Inc., WGI Inc. and Stantec Consulting Services.
This phase of the project, known as the Bay Street Innovation Corridor, is a three-mile loop that will operate between Pearl Street and A. Phillip Randolph Boulevard. The corridor is the first phase of the four-phase Ultimate Urban Circulator program that will convert the Jacksonville Skyway into an autonomous vehicle network that will operate in downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The team has seven months to complete 30% of the project, with the focus on the project’s roadway design.
The project is budgeted to cost up to $49.04 million — higher than the $44 million JTA projected it would cost when it applied for a federal BUILD grant in 2019.
Bernard Schmidt, JTA’s vice president of automation and innovation, said he is “confident that price will be well in the ballpark” for the project cost amid rising construction and metals costs.
Meanwhile, JTA has tested seven vehicles at its Armsdale Test & Learn center in northwest Jacksonville. Schmidt said a decision about which vehicle will be used for the Ultimate Urban Circulator will take place later in the project.
What the timeline will look like after the first 30% is done is still up in the air.
“It is an iterative process,” Schmidt said. “We’ll be making decisions over the course of the next seven months.”
The Bay Street Innovation Corridor will be completed with funds from the authority, a BUILD grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as monies from the Florida Department of Transportation, JEA, the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization and private entities.
ETM is thrilled to be providing Construction, Engineering & Inspection services on this exciting project.