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Jax Daily Record Monday, Sep. 22, 200812:00 PM EST

MPO name change now official

by: David Chapman

by David Chapman

Staff Writer

The First Coast Metropolitan Planning Organization’s June plans came to fruition Friday when the organization officially unveiled its new name, North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, new logo and new focus during a ceremony at the River Club.

“We are all about regional cooperation with transportation,” said North Florida TPO Chair and Neptune Beach Mayor Dick Brown. “Thanks to everyone involved, I have never seen it as more of a goal as I do right now.”

The North Florida TPO is an independent transportation regional planning organization for Duval and parts of Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties. It deals with the planning, funding and mobilization of transportation projects within those counties and acts as communication between corresponding transportation agencies.

The name change, said Brown, should make it easier for the public to understand the organization’s mission. With the former name, Brown said he’d often have to go into detail about the particulars of what the organization was all about and who it served.

The organization’s basic principles, “Plan, Fund, Mobilize,” are the new tagline (also evident on its logo) and combined with the other changes should help people identify the organization’s purpose better, said North Florida TPO Director of Planning Jeff Sheffield.

During his presentation to the group of over 50, Sheffield noted some of the studies the group conducted regarding transportation issues within the community.

One of the most promising findings of a 331-person survey on the organization’s performance was the result of perceived traffic congestion in the area, as Sheffield reported 30 percent of those questioned identified it as a problem – behind the curve.

“It tells me that we have an opportunity to change things before we get too far behind the curve,” he said. “Overall, it was a ‘good news’ response.”

Other portions of the survey showed responses were positive when asked about willingness for alternative methods of work (mass transit, carpool, e.g.) related travel and “user fee environments” for shorter drive times.

Sheffield was happy with the survey results and said they will use the data in focusing on the public’s concerns.

“Overall, the public opinion is that we’re doing a pretty good job,” he said.

Next for the organization comes a further transition, with changes in marketing materials, Web site and signage to increase visibility.

For North Florida TPO President Denise Bunnewith, though, they are all changes she’s looking forward to.

“I’m excited ... the name is certainly easier to wrap your tongue around,” said Bunnewith. “Now it’s time to try and go in the direction we need to be going.”

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