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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 17, 201512:00 PM EST

Work to start on $8M CNG facility


Clean Energy Fuels Corp. is gearing up to build a compressed natural gas fueling station at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s Myrtle Avenue operations campus that will be used by new JTA buses and the public.

JTA spokeswoman Leigh Ann Rassler said ground will be broken March 31 and the facility should be completed in November.

JTA anticipates saving about $5.7 million over the 15-year public-private partnership agreement with Clean Energy.

Clean Energy, based in Newport Beach, Calif., and co-founded by billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, will design, build, operate and maintain the project during the agreement, after which it belongs to JTA.

The authority is scheduled to buy 100 CNG buses to replace diesel vehicles within five years, at a cost of about $58 million. The first 20 should arrive by December. JTA is eligible for a $25,000 rebate from the state for each vehicle up to 10 per year.

JTA operates an active fleet of 149 large buses, of which 100 will be replaced, and 26 community shuttle buses. Some of the new buses will be used for the First Coast Flyer Bus Rapid Transit program.

Rassler said the CNG capital cost of the design-build project is $8.1 million. That includes construction and design.

The investment rises to $9.5 million including planning, construction management, oversight and inspection as well as some associated campus improvements funded outside of the public-private partnership contract.

Project funding is coming from a combination of $2.75 million from Florida Department of Transportation Regional Incentive Program funds through the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization and from financing by Clean Energy, which will be paid back through JTA fuel purchases.

JTA agreed to buy a minimum amount of fuel from Clean Energy for its new buses for 15 years and receive a discount in excess of the minimum purchase. By doing so, JTA is paying off the infrastructure without any upfront capital outlay.

The lock rate is $2.0181 for diesel-gallon equivalent, Rassler said.

She said as of March 9, the average price of diesel was $2.94 per gallon.

Meanwhile, JTA will receive 65 cents for every diesel gallon equivalent sold at the public access station, estimated at $3.9 million over the life of the agreement.

Also, Clean Energy will lease JTA’s land for the station at $12,000 a year for a total of $180,000.

Clean Energy is the largest provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America. It says it builds and operates CNG and liquefied natural gas fueling stations; makes CNG and LNG equipment and technologies; and develops renewable natural gas production facilities.

According to the Consumer Energy Center, compressed natural gas is produced both worldwide and domestically at relatively low cost and is cleaner burning than gasoline or diesel fuel. Natural gas vehicles show an average reduction in ozone-forming emissions of 80 percent compared to gasoline vehicles.

CNG stations are opening around town.

In February, Amp Trillium LLC held a grand opening for the area’s first public-access CNG refueling station at 9711 Mining Drive off Philips Highway. It provides access for heavy-duty fleet trucks and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Champion Brands Inc., a nearby beer distributor, is hosting the station and has a fueling contract with Trillium.

Gate Petroleum Co. is adding a Trillium CNG fueling facility at its 4100 Heckscher Drive station.

Arlington Road added to area revitalization

Another leg of Arlington is being added to its proposed area for redevelopment.

The city Office of Economic Development and district City Council member Clay Yarborough want to add a corridor of Arlington Road from University Boulevard east to Rogero Road to its scope of a proposed Community Redevelopment Area.

Announced in February, the area was centered at Jacksonville University, at 2800 University Blvd. N.

It ran south along University Boulevard to the Town & Country Shopping Center and east along Merrill Road to the Interstate 295 East Beltway.

Arlington Road extends off of University Boulevard north of the Town & Country Shopping Center.

Because of the change, the deadline was extended for the Request for Proposals for consultants or firms to provide professional services to create a “Finding of Necessity Study” and a comprehensive Community Redevelopment Area Plan.

Last week’s deadline was extended to March 25.

The redevelopment initiative for Arlington could direct an estimated $40 million into revitalizing the aging suburb over the next 20 years, according to the city.

Renew Arlington is Mayor Alvin Brown’s initiative to create a Community Redevelopment Area and Tax Increment Financing District to boost jobs and investment in the Arlington area.

He has allocated more than $200,000 for the CRA study and plan that will need council approval.

If approved, the city would determine a baseline value of taxable properties within the district boundaries. Starting in 2016, all of the additional property tax revenues would be redirected to revitalize the CRA.

Baptist Health buys site for Town Center ER center

Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida Inc. bought property near St. Johns Town Center from Gate Petroleum Co. on Friday to develop a free-standing pediatric and adult emergency center.

Jacksonville-based Baptist Health plans to develop the 17,000-square-foot center on 1.76 acres next to the Gate store at St. Johns Bluff Road and Town Center Parkway.

It will operate 24/7 and feature 16 private-treatment rooms and an on-site lab and imaging services. It will offer about 60 full-time equivalent positions.

Southern Baptist Hospital paid $2.145 million for the property. It will be the health system’s second free-standing emergency center.

The center is off of the Interstate 295 East Beltway and near the University of North Florida.

Jacksonville-based Baptist Health operates five emergency centers, including its first free-standing site at the Baptist Clay Medical Campus on Fleming Island at U.S. 17 and Village Square Parkway.

It also plans free-standing centers in North Jacksonville at Dunn Avenue and the I-295 West Beltway for adults and children.

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