Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bus shelter battle heads to Jacksonville City Council

In 1987 the installation of new billboards and other commercial signs was banned in Jacksonville. This ban also mandated the incremental removal of existing signs and billboards.

Now the Jacksonville Transportation Authority is looking for a way around it.

The JTA has asked the council to amend an existing ordinance so that advertising would be allowed on bus shelters within the city. The council will take up the issue at its meeting on Tuesday.

Ten of the 19 City Council members have co-sponsored the legislation, all but guaranteeing the bill will pass unless one of the co-sponsors changes his or her mind.

Opponents say the amendment could allow sign companies to sue the city and put the entire law in legal jeopardy.

The JTA wants a company to build and maintain bus shelters in exchange for the right to sell advertising. Executive Director Michael Blaylock said that with advertising, the JTA could construct about 80 shelters a year, instead of the 20 or so a year being built now.

It costs $4,000 to $12,000 to construct a shelter and about $1,200 a year to maintain one, but the new shelters might by more ornate and cost more than the existing shelters, JTA spokesman Mike Miller said.

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