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JTA holds public information sessions on its autonomous vehicle project

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is still waiting on permits from the city to start construction on the first phase of a project that’s supposed to bring autonomous shuttles to downtown Jacksonville.

It’s called the Bay Street Innovation Corridor.

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Action News Jax previously told you how the entire project is over budget and behind schedule.

In an Action News Jax investigation, we found the project was originally quoted to cost $44 million but will actually cost more than $65 million.

It is supposed to be footed by a combination of local, state, and federal money. But, so far, 91% of the money spent is local.

On Monday, JTA held an information session for the public.

“While you are here, you are going to learn a lot about this particular project. We got stations set up where you can learn a little bit more on the different scopes within this project,” Vice President of Automation and Innovation Kiet Dinh said.

A big part of it is how these autonomous vehicles will be operated.

“We are working on what we’ve been calling the supervisory system for the project which is that screen an individual can sit down behind and make operational choices to keep things moving with the system,” Jordan Dowdy with Beep said.

That’s especially important to keep things running smoothly for passengers.

“If there is a like a low battery issue with a vehicle that would be where an individual would analyze the situation and say, ‘Hey, what we need to do is dispatch a replacement vehicle,’” Dowdy said.

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The project has come under criticism by the Florida Department of Transportation for the scope, price, and viability of the tech.

The project’s own documents show it is behind its intended timeline.

The construction and installation of all the smart devices will be in place by March 31, 2025, according to Dinh.

With a milestone completion date set for June 30, 2025, Action News Jax asked if there is a chance the permits would be delayed.

“We feel really confident that we’ve gone through a long iterative process with our partner jurisdiction with getting these permits getting approved,” Dinh said.

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JTA has yet to break ground. That’s just one of the deadlines the project has already missed.

JTA said they are waiting for the city to finalize the permits so they can start construction.

JTA told Action News Jax Alexus Cleavenger they got a few of the initial permits for construction on the Autonomous Innovation Center in LaVilla, a $9.4 million command center. But they are still waiting for the others.

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