The Times-Union’s weekly traffic column starts off with state news on an automotive-fraud campaign and settlement, before reminding drivers that schools open Monday with added traffic, and the Mayport ferry is back in business for Jacksonville.
There’s plenty of transportation news to discuss this week in the Jacksonville area.
So let’s begin with what Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles launched to combat automotive fraud Monday in her Jacksonville satellite office as she also announced a $1.3 million settlement for victims at a former dealership in the city.
The campaign advises consumers to check a vehicle’s history before purchasing a car to guard against odometer fraud, which happens when a scammer disconnects, resets or alters it to lower the mileage displayed on the dashboard. Lowering the mileage helps a seller profit off a vehicle for more than it is actually worth.
“Not only does odometer fraud trick drivers into paying a higher price for a less valuable vehicle, it can also prevent the driver from pursuing important maintenance and service work necessary to keep the vehicle safely running,” Moody said. “If important mileage-based maintenance is not performed on an older vehicle, it can break down unexpectedly, potentially putting the driver and passengers in severe danger.”
It is illegal to tamper with vehicle odometers. Before purchasing a vehicle, consumers should verify a vehicle’s odometer via oil-change stickers, service records or warranty cards that may reflect the true mileage. The state also advises using vehicle history report sites such as AutoCheck, Carfax or Kelley Blue Book to make sure the car is in good condition. And look at wear and tear on the vehicle: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, the state said.
For more tips about odometer and other automobile fraud, follow the #SteerClearOfFraudOAG campaign online at twitter.com/AGAshleyMoody.
Moody also announced the result of an investigation into the now defunct Riverside Chevrolet of Jacksonville dealership and its owner, Andrew Ferguson. As a result of litigation filed by her office, Riverside Chevrolet will pay consumer restitution after it was accused of not paying off previous liens on cars that were traded-in, didn’t pay sales taxes to the state or pay employee withholding taxes, Moody said.
As a result of the investigation, Riverside Chevrolet agreed to pay off outstanding liens on vehicles traded in to Riverside Chevrolet LLC by affected consumers from August 2017 to August 2018. At least 17 of the affected consumers were seniors, the state said. Riverside Chevrolet also must pay $235,000 in civil penalties to the state, and Ferguson is barred from owning, operating or managing an automobile dealership in Florida.
To view the Riverside Chevrolet LLC complaint, go to bit.ly/31o8Z1Z. To read the final judgment against the former dealership, go to bit.ly/2KrjJWs.
Moving on to more news, traffic will ramp up Monday as school starts in Duval, Baker, Flagler, Putnam and Nassau counties, and on Tuesday in Clay County. That means more children walking and more cars and buses bringing students to class. So the city of Jacksonville has kicked off an All in Duval safety campaign at coj.net/allinduval to remind drivers to watch out for bicyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and drivers by following basic safety rules.
Now comes our marine portion of the column, and it has to do with the St. Johns River Ferry.
Last week we told you that the ferry, which normally does the .9-mile trip between its Mayport and Heckscher Drive terminals, was down for about two weeks of repairs after damage to its propeller. Repairs took a lot less time than expected, and the ferry was back in service at 6 a.m. Friday, meaning a 24-mile detour that many readers are calling me about is over. But there is more good news about the ferry.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration has awarded $3.9 million to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority for the next phase of ferry upgrades, including work to bulkheads, catwalks, warehousing, mooring bollards and other improvements to both the Mayport Village and Fort George Island facilities. The grant accounts for about 70 percent of the total estimated $5.6 million project’s cost to help a ferry that carries about 400,000 passengers a year. Work is scheduled to begin next spring.
Here’s some other news:
• Two downtown bridge closures occur this weekend, as well as a downtown street next week.
The Florida Department of Transportation will detour eastbound traffic crossing the Mathews Bridge from now through 6 a.m. Sunday as crews perform bridge maintenance. There will also be a single-lane westbound closure through 6 a.m. Sunday. And the Main Street bridge will be detoured to the Acosta Bridge from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for routine FDOT bridge inspection.
The city will close Catherine Street between East Duval and East Church streets from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday so a crane can be moved. The detour will be marked.
• JTA is having two public hearings to discuss a proposal to modify current fares for some of its services. The first is from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday in the auditorium/Room A1068 at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Downtown Campus at 101 W. State St. The second hearing is from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday at the JTA Myrtle Avenue Operations Campus at 100 Myrtle Ave. The JTA board of directors will consider the proposal at 1 p.m. Tuesday. If adopted, this would be the first adjustment to fares since 2012, officials said. Fares for Connexion and Connexion Plus paratransit services, and those for seniors will not change. For more information, go to jtafla.com.
Questions about road or traffic issues? Send me an email at email@example.com.
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549