Front Cover
 Back Cover

Title: Engineer speaks : memoirs covering five decades of highway problems in Duval County
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/NF00000146/00001
 Material Information
Title: Engineer speaks : memoirs covering five decades of highway problems in Duval County
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Sollee, Arthur N.
Publication Date: 2001
Copyright Date: 2001
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: NF00000146
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of North Florida
Holding Location: University of North Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aaa1584 - LTQF

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
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Full Text

^ I

The first steel beam was swung into place at the cast abutment in
Arlington about 10:30 A.M.
Tuesday, January 8, 1952: Merritt-Chapman and Scott Corporation
yesterday started pouring a block of concrete containing almost 4500
cubic yards as part of the Mathews Bridge Pier 1-E.
Saturday, February 23, 1952: With the deadline almost at hand for
completion of the State Road Department's new budget, State Road
Department Chairman Alfred A. McKethan yesterday was noncommit-
tal as to whether funds will be included to continue work on the
Jacksonville expressway system.
During a meeting with local officials in Tallahassee last week,
McKethan warned that if the city did not provide approximately a
million dollars this year to move utilities crossing the superhighway right
of way, several million dollars earmarked for expressway use in 1952
might be channeled into State Road Department projects in other areas
when the budget was fixed.
Tuesday, February 26, 1952: The State Road Board yesterday in
Tallahassee refused to release state and federal funds for the Jacksonville
expressway in 1952 unless the city of Jacksonville moves its utilities on
expressway routes.
The board left in its budget the six million dollars of federal and state
funds it had budgeted for construction of the expressway in 1952.
Chairman McKethan said he felt that the city of Jacksonville had
adequate notice about moving the utilities. He said the Road Department
had files of former Senator John E. Mathews, Sr., now a member of the
Supreme Court of Florida and these files "show that the city attorney was
fully notified about moving the utilities."
Wednesday, February 27, 1952: The City Council last night adopted a
resolution declaring its refusal "to entertain tax notions" proposed by
Governor Fuller Warren and State Road Department Chairman, Alfred
A. McKethan for raising funds to pay the expense of moving public
utilities intersecting the Jacksonville expressway system.
Friday, February 29, 1952: Chairman Alfred A. McKethan of the State
Road Department on Thursday called on the Jacksonville Chamber of
Commerce to help solve the controversy around the relocation of utilities
on the route of the Jacksonville expressway.
McKethan showed no inclination to modify the Road Board's stand. It

has said the city ofJacksonville must move the utilities or state road funds
will be withheld.


The Years 1951-1952

The Road Board chairman termed as a camouflage and smoke screen
the contention of some Jacksonville officials that the city is not
responsible for relocation of utilities because it was not adequately
And, McKethan said the Road Department could complete approaches
to the two major bridges across the St. Johns River, make the spans
available for the collection of tolls and "keep full faith with the bond
"The balance of the system, if not completed," said McKethan,
"would be a loss to Jacksonville certainly, but would not affect the paying
of the bonds to any appreciable degree."
These views were set forth today by McKethan in a letter to Brown L.
Whatley, chairman of the Highway Committee of the Jacksonville
Chamber of Commerce.
Wednesday, March 12, 1952: The City Council promised last night to
give "prompt and earnest consideration to such budgetary transfer of
funds as may be recommended to it by the City Commission" for the
purpose of paying the cost of relocating utilities which interfere with
expressway construction this year.
The action followed by one night a declaration by Commissioner J.
Dillon Kennedy that he believes $304,000 could be provided for moving
electric and water utilities in 1952 by transferring money from budgetary
accounts in the Utilities Department.
Commissioner Ernest Haselden, however, said no budgetary funds
were available for moving $40,000 worth of sewers and Mayor-
Commissioner Haydon Burns made the same statement in regard to
$100,000 needed to move Signal Bureau facilities.
The commissioners spoke at a joint meeting of City, County, State
Road Board and Chamber of Commerce officials who met Monday night
to discuss Jacksonville's policy in the expressway crisis.
Friday, August 1, 1952: The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce's
Highway Committee yesterday took action to speed up local highway
projects, endorsed the proposed Jacksonville-to-Miami toll turnpike and
called for a reorganization of the State Road Board.
Resolutions were adopted urging the state to put construction of the
Trout River Bridge, and expressway link, and the improvement of

Hendricks Avenue and San Jose Boulevard under contract this year.
The actions were taken after Brown L. Whatley, Committee Chair-
man, reported that he had received information that the state may table


The Years 1951-1952

San Marco Boulevard on the east, the expressway from the east end of the
John E. Mathews Bridge to U.S. Highway 1, and from the west end of the
John E. Mathews Bridge to the north and south route via Main Street.

The Years 1951-1952

these projects this year. If that happens, he said, there may be no funds for
them next year, when a new state administration takes office.
Whatley said he had been told that plans for the Trout River Bridge, a
connection in the expressway route from the Gilmore Street Bridge to
U.S. Highway 17 north of the city, have been completed but that the Road
Department has given no indication it will let a contract for the project
this year.
Tuesday, August 19, 1952: State Road Chairman Alfred A. McKethan
disclosed here yesterday that various proposed state road projects in
Jacksonville and Duval County had been delayed because of lack of funds.
He told a conference of local government and civic officials in City
Hall that fiscal commitments on the Jacksonville expressway are of "such
magnitude" that the state probably will be unable to put the other
projects under contract this year.
These include widening of Hendricks Avenue and Lem Turner Road
and the resurfacing of Atlantic Boulevard.
Friday, November 21, 1952: Skyrocketing cost will prevent completion
of several vital lengths in the Jacksonville expressway unless about $39
million in additional funds can be obtained from some source, State Road
Board Chairman, Alfred A. McKethan revealed yesterday in Tallahassee.
The stunning news that the big project cannot be finished with funds
now in sight was disclosed in a prepared statement from McKethan to his
fellow members of the Road Board.
In effect, McKethan explained, the project's cost has zoomed from a
much lower original estimate to about $69 million under present
circumstances. Of the big increase, almost $10 million results from boosts
in right of way costs as compared to original estimates.
So far, some $30,000,000 has been spent on the program.
McKethan said, however, that it was never contemplated on finishing
the expressway in less than seven or eight years.
"The orderly construction of the expressway system can be continued
from year to year as regular road funds are allocated to the project,
matched with federal urban funds, but construction cannot begin until the
right of way is acquired," he asserted.
Money is available to complete the John E. Mathews Bridge, the
Gilmore Street Bridge and approaches from Park Street on the west, to


The Years 1951-1952

amounts to $28,000,000, only about $30,000,000 has been spent on the
expressway up to now.



However, here are some phases of the plan which McKethan said
cannot be carried out with funds now available or in sight:
1. The Myrtle Avenue Viaduct.
2. The South Jacksonville Expressway from the east end of San Marco
to U.S. 1.
3. The expressway from the west end of the Gilmore Street Bridge to
the Myrtle Avenue Viaduct, with connections to U.S. Highway 17
and U.S. Highway 90.
4. The South Expressway from the Myrtle Avenue Viaduct to U.S. 17 in
the vicinity of the Thomas C. Imeson Airport, with new bridge over
Trout River.
Friday, November 21, 1952: County Commissioner Bob Gordon, who
was one of the leading figures in negotiations on the expressway project,
last night expressed surprise at State Road Board Chairman Alfred A.
McKethan's statement that an additional $39,000,000 would be needed
from some source in order to complete the program.
"So far as I can see, the taxpayers of Duval County are not involved in
any deficit that may exist in the expressway building fund," Gordon
"We made a bargain with the State Road Department," Gordon
explained. "It was agreed that if Duval County would pledge $28,000,000
of its surplus gas tax funds, the State Road Department would complete
the entire project. There was no contingent clause which said Duval
County might be called upon for additional contributions-it was
understood throughout the negotiations that the $28,000,000 bond issue
would be this county's sole contribution."
Gordon went on to say that Duval County had kept its part of the
bargain and that the $28,000,000 bond issue had been validated both by the
Duval County Circuit Courts and the State Supreme Court.
"The resolutions and agreements which plainly show that Duval
County's financial responsibility ended with the $28,000,000 bond issue,
and which specifically obligate the Road Department to provide
whatever remaining funds are necessary to complete the project, were
made a part of court records during the validation proceedings," he
Gordon also pointed out that where Duval County's contribution

Wednesday, November 26, 1952: The Florida Road Department on
Tuesday awarded a $339,168 contract for construction of the east and
west approaches to the Gilmore Street Bridge.
Wednesday, November 26, 1952: Chairman Alfred A. McKethan of the
Florida Road Board yesterday in Tallahassee assured the people of
Jacksonville that bond revenue projects of the Jacksonville expressway
project would be completed in full.
McKethan said there had been some misunderstanding about the
revenue bond portion of the expressway, and he desired to make plain the
fact that bond-financed portions are under contract and will be
completed as planned.
He also said that most of the bond financed projects will be completed
ahead of schedule. He cited the John E. Mathews Bridge, which is being
finished a year ahead of schedule.
Saturday, December 20, 1952: The mounting cost of rights of way is the
"one definite alarming factor" in construction of the Jacksonville
expressway, Chairman Alfred A. McKethan of the Florida Road Board
said yesterday in Tallahassee.
Otherwise, said McKethan, the remainder of the 42-mile roadway and
bridge system is progressing normally-with completion to be expected
in seven to ten years.
These views were expressed today by McKethan as he presented a
report to the new Florida Road Board appointed by Governor-elect Dan
T. McCarty. The new board, headed by Richard H. Simpson of
Monticello, will replace the Warren-appointed board January 6th.
The two boards-one outgoing and one incoming-met today jointly
in Tallahassee.
Tuesday, December 30, 1952: The Jacksonville expressway's largest
single structure, the $11,000,000 John E. Mathews Bridge across the St.
Johns River will be dedicated New Year's Day.

The Years 1951-1952


County Road and Bridge Projects 1930's


McGirts Cr. Bridge Jax
Heights Rd. Looking West.
November 10, 1936

v ,.

1.. 41WE

Air& ~ Pl


Just completed hand excavated
ditch in the north branch of Little
6 Mile Creek looking south from
Mays Road on January 23, 1934


McGirts Cr. Bridge on ]ax
Heights Rd. Looking East.
November 27, 1936


Jg P
...x PP
6~ i


The roller coaster news concerning the Jacksonville expressway from 1947
through 1952 gave the people of Duval County alternating feelings of despair and
When all appeared to be going along smoothly, there would be a pessimistic and
critical announcement emanating from the State Road Board in Tallahassee, for
former optimistic utterances of officialdom would be replaced with resounding
reneging statements.
What started out in Tallahassee in 1949 as a very favorable and beautiful
relationship ended rather abruptly at the beginning of 1953 with the incoming
Governor McCarty regime, for the promises received by the local citizens from
the Warren administration were quickly shattered. The question in the minds of
the citizens of Jacksonville was: Would the expressway project be revived and
when would it be completed?
Such troubled thoughts were temporarily put aside for, on Thursday, January 1,
1953, the people of Duval County participated in the dedication of the long
sought-for bridge spanning the St.Johns River fromJacksonville to the Arlington
Climax of the ceremony came when Mrs. John E. Mathews unveiled a plaque
naming the bridge in her husband's honor.
Shortly thereafter, with a snip of a pair of gold plated scissors, Mrs. Mathews
cut the ribbon barrier to the bridge named for her distinguished husband, Supreme
Court Justice John E. Mathews.
In his address Justice Mathews made this significant statement:
"Should the men and women of the present generation begin today
with the thought and idea that another bridge, or bridges, will be
necessary in the not too distant future, it would require many years to
convince the people of this necessity, to agree upon sites and whether
bridges or tunnels would best serve the purpose. After sufficient unity had
been achieved and a majority of the people have agreed upon a plan, it
will then take many more years to develop the details and to finance such
a plan and for engineers to prepare plans and specifications which would
be agreed upon by responsible authorities."
In addition to Brown Whatley, who presided at the ceremony, were Governor
Fuller Warren, Chairman Alfred McKethan of the State Road Board andJ. Glover

Taylor of Jacksonville, a member of the State Road Board. The State Improve-
ment Commission was represented by Charles W. Blum ofJacksonville, a member
and J. Turner Butler, the commission's attorney.

Three members of the County Commission-Chairman Joe F. Hammond, C.
Ray Greene and Edward I. Acosta together with the board's attorney, J. Henry
Blount and County Engineer Arthur N. Sollee, looked on with pride.
Mayor Haydon Burns headed the city officials at the ceremony. That group
included Commissioners Ernest S. Haselden and J. Dillon Kennedy, President
James M. Peeler of the City Council, Captain William E. Sheddan, city engineer
consultant, and City Engineer Walter F. Daniel.
The Mathews Bridge was designed by Reynolds, Smith and Hills ofJacksonville
and Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Hall and Macdonald of New York City,jointly serving
as associates, architects and engineers. Members of those firms present included
John F. Reynolds, George B. Hills and P.M. Huddleston of the Jacksonville firm
and Eugene L. Macdonald of the New York group.
The George D. Auchter Company ofJacksonville, which built eight piers under
the west approach structure, was represented by James T. Monahan, executive
vice president.
R.I. Senn represented Merritt, Chapman and Scott of New York City, principal
contractors for the rest of the substructure.
D.S. Blankenship represented the Bethlehem Steel Co., contractor for the final
phase of the bridge-the superstructure.
Others present included Richey Green, project engineer for the State Road
Department, and W.E. Dean, engineer of bridges.
The new State Road Board appointed by Governor Dan McCarty, at their first
meeting on Tuesday, January 7, 1953 indicated it did not intend to build the Myrtle
Avenue overpass in Jacksonville soon.
The S.R.D. told Jacksonville Highway Commissioner Ernest Haselden it
favored the Gilmore Street Bridge to U.S. Highway 1 rather than to construct the
$2,500,000 overpass.
S.R.D. Chairman Simpson, commenting on the commitment by the Warren
administration of all of the $28,000,000 expressway bond issue, said:
"You have got the east part built. The bond money is spent. The rest of it has to
come the hard way." S.R.D. member J. Saxton Lloyd said: "The last Road Board
started the San Marco overpass with the idea of forcing this board to finish it. That
is why I am not inclined to continue on with it and have it hanging in mid-air."
Simpson suggested a 30-day waiting period in order to give Haselden a chance
to talk about it with Jacksonville officials.
Questioned by Haselden, Simpson stated the Road Department could connect

the Gilmore Street Bridge to U.S. Highway 1 (Philips Highway) as the
department's thinking was to the south rather than going on to the north.

The Year 1953 The McCarty Term



The real shocker came at a luncheon in the Mayflower Hotel on Friday, January
23, 1953, sponsored by the Highway Committee of the Jacksonville Chamber of
Commerce. Richard Simpson, chairman of the State Road Board, was the
luncheon speaker. He told the gathering: "The honeymoon is over for the
Jacksonville expressway." He noted the expressway had a deficit of $2.25 million
which must be paid for in 1953. He explained the deficit as follows:
A total of $30.6 million had been spent or committed on expressway projects
completed or under contract. Bonds sold to finance the project, plus their accrued
interest, gave a credit of $28.35 million, leaving a deficit of $2.25 million. Of the
$2.25 million, the amount of $1.57 million was from Road Department primary
funds, the remaining $680,000 from federal funds.
Simpson said 1954 may offer a "brighter picture" in Road Department finances.
As a result of Simpson's remarks the Chamber's Highway Committee adopted a
proposed priority of construction schedule.
This schedule was adopted by a special committee of local government and
business leaders over objections of the county commissioners.
On January 30, in Tallahassee, the S.R.D. awarded a contract for the
construction of the substructure of the Myrtle Avenue overpass and at the same
time rejected a bid for the superstructure.
Appearing at this meeting was Fred Kent, vice chairman of the Jacksonville
Chamber of Commerce Committee on Roads, who termed the Myrtle Avenue
overpass "the nerve center of the expressway and added it would relieve
'intolerable' traffic conditions."
Simpson said, "I would like to complete the entire expressway next year and get
it out of the way. If the money becomes available we may be able to finish the
project in eight, six or even five years."
The Jacksonville Journal in an editorial in the Wednesday April 1, 1953 issue
summed up the feelings of the community as follows:
The bad news coming out ofJacksonville's superhighway-or by now,
it should be labelled duperhighway-seems to go on and on.
Confirmation has now come that the east end of the Gilmore Street
Bridge will meet San Marco Boulevard at a level intersection, dumping
more traffic into the already jammed traffic artery. Gone is the pretty
dream of the bridge traffic soaring over San Marco on an overpass, a
thrilling picture contained in the original plans when the citizens of Duval
County were duped by the old State Road Board. What's more, the east
end of the bridge comes to an abrupt dead end against San Marco,
meaning that traffic crossing the bridge will have to turn right or left into

the San Marco traffic from two other bridges. Under the present set-up,

The Year 1953 The McCarty Term

The Year 1953 The McCarty Term

Committee, said the committee would be likely to heed the proposal.
This committee was announced by Whatley on Wednesday, August 12 as being
composed of Whatley himself; Fred Kent, vice chairman of the chamber highway
group; State Representative Fletcher Morgan; J.K. Atwood, president of the Five
Points Business Association; and Carl Taylor, chairman of the Southside Business
Men's Club Highway Committee.
Speaking before the Southside Business Men's Club on Wednesday September
2, 1953, Simpson said the next expressway project should be the construction of
links between the Gilmore Street bridge and Philips Highway and the Myrtle
Avenue overpass to the north. He told the club that present and completed
expressway projects were not eligible for federal support but would seek it. He
reported that "from the start of construction through July 31 of 1953, $30,410,832
was spent on the expressway."
Simpson said Governor McCarty and the Road Board were aware of their
moral commitments to build as much of the expressway as possible with funds
available during their administration.
The muddled affairs of the expressway were again compounded, for Governor
McCarty died within a few months and with his demise the McCarty Road Board
was left in a floundering position with still countless unanswered and unsolved
problems of the Jacksonville expressway.

The Johns Administration

"The State Road Department is in better financial condition now and I do not
foresee any serious hindrance in the expressway work," said Chairman Simpson
visiting Jacksonville on November 3, 1953. He said the state would receive bids on
the Myrtle Avenue overpass in December. He also told the Chamber of
Commerce committee the Road Board would meet with Governor Charles E.
Johns on November 18 at Tallahassee to submit a proposal for expressway
expenditures in 1954. He added that at the end of the current year $7 million will
have been spent on expressway contracts.
On December 5, 1953 Johns proposed an emergency shifting maneuver which
would make $1.5 million more available for the Jacksonville expressway during
1954. This amount would supplement $3 million already committed, giving a total
of $4.5 million expected to be spent on expressway work during the year.
Speaking in Tallahassee on December 16, Florida's new State Road Chairman,
Cecil Webb, said that he considers the state "has an obligation to complete the
Jacksonville expressway as quickly as possible."
The S.R.D. meeting in Tallahassee on January 29, 1954 hiked its 1954
appropriation for the Jacksonville expressway to $6,322,167 allotting $2,122,167
more than had been originally promised.
Governor Johns on April 7th ordered the Road Department to call for bids for
this month on construction of the overpass spanning San Marco Boulevard and
other Southside connecting links to the Gilmore Street Bridge. He also ordered a
review of the Jacksonville expressway's Southside and Riverside plans to help iron
out problems caused by the dead ending of streets. The expressway has stagnated
long enough, he said. "We are going to make some progress."
The Gilmore Street Bridge was dedicated and opened to traffic on June 7th. In
his dedication address Supreme Court Justice John E. Mathews declared it would
be only a question of time before another bridge between the spot where all were
standing and Green Cove Springs would be an absolute necessity.
The Jacksonville Journal on June 8th carried the following editorial:
Precisely how far Jacksonville has come from a one-horse town can be
measured by the fact that we are now a four-bridge city.
The fact that the approaches to the Gilmore Street Bridge are far from
satisfactory detracts only a little from the advantages of having a fourth
bridge open across the St. Johns. The bridge connects two heavily
populated areas, Riverside and Southside, and takes the load off the
totally inadequate Acosta Bridge. For 15 cents, those driving from one
section to the other can avoid the long delay at the Acosta-viaduct


The first message of Governor LeRoy Collins concerning the Jacksonville
expresswayas carried in The Florida Times-Union on January 18,1955, is as follows:
A message from Governor LeRoy Collins gave reassurances yesterday
that he plans to fulfill a campaign promise to complete "at least the
essential parts" of the Jacksonville expressway during the two-year term
for which he was elected.
This statement was made in a letter read at the Duval Board of County
Commissioners' meeting yesterday. It was addressed to County Engineer,
Arthur N. Sollee, who had written to the governor at the time he
forwarded Duval County's 1955 road building program to Collins and
State Road Board members two weeks ago.
After discussing his road building program generally, Governor
Collins wrote:
"I also assume I need not assure you of my determination to see that
everything possible is done to complete at least the essential parts of the
Jacksonville expressway within the next two years. This is the statement I
made repeatedly in the campaign and I do not intend to forget it. This
statement, of course, is based on the obvious place the expressway would
occupy in a program giving consideration to need.
"It is not my intention, however, to attempt to dictate to our new Road
Board and I am pleased to note that copies of your board's resolutions also
have gone to Mr. Wilbur E. Jones and Mr. Earl Powers (Road Board
Chairman and member from this district, respectively)."
On January 18, 1955, Duval County's road building program was formally
submitted to the State Road Department in Lake City and while it met with favor,
Earl P. Powers of Gainesville, member from this district, said the amount of
money available will determine how much of it can be accomplished.
Connecting links of the Jacksonville expressway headed the list of proposed
projects. Powers assured the delegation, which included members of the Board of
County Commissioners, city officials and Chamber of Commerce representatives,
that the project also was foremost in the minds of State Road Department officials.
Powers said the Road Board's position on the expressway was expressed by
Collins in a letter to County Engineer Arthur N. Sollee, which assured "at least
the essential parts" of the expressway would be completed within the next two
Bids had already been received for the Haines Street and Riverside links. The
delegation urged the contracts be awarded, the San Marco overpass be extended


There was a great awakening in the early months of 1955 by the civic leaders of
Jacksonville who had been closely connected with the expressway since its
inception in 1946. It dawned upon them like a crash of thunder that for eight long
years the promises and pledges of the policy makers and administrative heads of
the Florida State Road Department had been misleading, unreliable, and easily
After weeks and months of research and after many conferences it was decided
that the answer was an expressway authority that would be vested with the
necessary power to plan and finance its own construction programs without
having to depend on the whims of the S.R.D. or the idiosyncrasies of the federal
Without fanfare or prior notices a legal advertisement appeared in the April 4,
1955 issue of the Financial News and Daily Record notifying the public that it was the
intention to apply to the Legislature of the State of Florida during its 1955 session
for the passage of "An Act Creating the Jacksonville Expressway Authority and
Defining its Jurisdiction and Powers."
The full advertisement was signed by Morgan, senator from Duval County.
The general public had no inkling what was being contemplated until the news
broke in the May 19 issue of The Florida Times-Union. The headlines on one page
read, "Duval Board Opposes Refinance Proposal" while on another page
headlines said, "Board Urged to Back Plan for Highway- Chamber Asks County
to Reconsider Expressway Refinance Plan."
During the next few days the county commissioners conferred with their
attorney and county engineer and then at a meeting held on May 23, agreed to
support the expressway authority bill but issued a statement on its position
regarding proposed legislation creating the Jacksonville Expressway Authority, a
part of which is recorded as follows:
1. In the resolution of December 2, 1949 among other things, it was
"It is further understood and agreed that any surplus gasoline tax
income in excess of the requirements for debt service and reserve
funds shall be distributed as provided by law."
This aforesaid provision was added upon the insistence of this
board at that time and materially affected the decision of the board in
finally passing the resolution wherein it requested the $28 million
bond issue. However, in the subsequent proceedings had by the State

The Formative Period of the Jacksonville Expressway

pertinent information showing in detail the development and progress of
the contemplated project and the planning therefore. Also, that this board
be given definite assurances that the present and future primary road
system in Duval County will not be seriously penalized to the detriment
of the traveling public.
Now, with the assurance that the legislative delegation has given this
board, coupled with the esteem in which they are held by the county
commissioners, as the duly elected representatives of the people of the
county, this board, by appropriate motion to be taken today, will stipulate
its approval of the proposed legislation and will, at the appropriate time,
adopt the necessary resolutions which will pave the way in activating the
construction and completion of the expressway.
The next day the State Road Department agreed it would contribute at least $12
million toward the completion of the Jacksonville expressway.
After having passed the Senate and House the bill creating the Jacksonville
Expressway Authority was signed into law on Thursday, June 23, 1955 by
Governor LeRoy Collins. As he signed the bill he was watched by the Duval
County legislative delegation of Representatives William Maness, Harry W.
Westberry and W. Lacy Mahon, Jr., and Senator Fletcher Morgan. Road Board
Chairman Wilbur Jones also was present.
On July 23, 1955 while Governor Collins was in Jacksonville on his way to New
York, he announced the names of the appointees to the newly created Jacksonville
Expressway Authority. They were Lucius A. Buck, 326 Ocean Boulevard,
Atlantic Beach, a member of the legal firm of Buck and Drew; Irving J.
Pemberton, 4205 Ortega Boulevard, Vice President of the W.H. Clark Fruit
Company and James H. O'Reilly, 4936 Apache Avenue, head of an investment
firm in Jacksonville.
The governor said commissions of appointment would be issued when he
returned to the state the following week.
While in New York the governor on July 25 sent a telegram to Lucius A. Buck
designating him as the chairman of the new authority and told him to "proceed
with organization as you feel the exigencies require."
The first meeting of the authority was held on August 12, 1955. It agreed that it
must obtain a feasibility report "from engineers and fiscal experts as a means to
bring about the speedy completion of the expressway."
A preliminary report toward that end was given by Earl P. Powers of
Gainesville, an ex-officio member as a member of the State Road Board, who was
asked to look into the matter by Chairman Lucius A. Buck.
Powers revealed that he had negotiated with the engineering firm of Coverdale


But Chrysippus, Posidonius, Zeno, and Boethus say, that all things are
produced by fate. And fate is a connected cause of existing things, or the
reason according to which the world is regulated.
Diogenes Laertius
The Florida Times-Union edition of Tuesday, March 27, 1956 reporting on county
courthouse events printed a news item, excerpts of which are as follows:
Arthur N. Sollee was named yesterday as executive director of the
Jacksonville Expressway Authority.
His appointment came after weeks of search for a director. The
announcement created some surprise when Sollee tendered his resigna-
tion as county engineer to the Board of County Commissioners yesterday
John H. Crosby, who has been assistant county engineer since Oct. 1,
1953, was named county engineer to succeed Sollee.
"Learned of Availability"
"We have searched far and wide for a man we felt competent to fill the
job of executive director," Authority Chairman Lucius A. Buck said. "It
wasjust a few days ago that we learned that Mr. Sollee was available and
we immediately entered into negotiations with him. We believe we have
obtained the finest man possible for the job and feel sure his appointment
will mean progress on the expressway can go ahead much faster."
Buck said it means that Wesley A. Sweat, who has had to double as
chief engineer and acting director, can now give his full time to the
engineering phases of the project.
Sweat was obtained from the State Road Department soon after the
expressway Authority was organized last summer. Because no one else
was available, Sweat agreed to assume the duties of acting director until
one could be found.
"Too Much for One Man"
"We have come too far now for one man to do both jobs," Buck said.
"We feel we have solved an important part of our organization."
Sollee will begin his duties with the Expressway Authority next
Monday. He will officially retire from the county at the end of his
vacation period on April 21.
In taking the position with the Expressway Authority, Sollee accepts a
job with which he already is familiar. As county engineer he had a part in

The 1957 Revenue Bond Program 99

Last Tuesday the Jacksonville Expressway Authority sold $70 million
worth of revenue bonds to refinance an earlier $28 million issue and to
provide funds for completing the huge roadway. The interest rate which
averaged 4.3 per cent wasn't as low as was wished for but was considered
quite creditable in view of current market conditions.
It took two years of planning, perseverence and work to get those
bonds sold and everybody who had anything at all to do with it deserves
the thanks of a public that should be ever grateful.
Two years ago the expressway was sputtering out. The $28 million was
gone along with what looked like the last of state and federal funds. For its
money, the people had the John E. Mathews Bridge with a divided
highway extending from Main Street and an alternate U.S. Highway 1
that circumvented traffic congestion of downtown Jacksonville and the
Southside, rejoining Philips Highway at Greenland. There also was being
completed an offshoot of that route extending along Haines Street from
the bridge approach to Eighth Street.
Along the main part of the proposed expressway-the north-south
route-the Fuller Warren Bridge had been built, but served no useful
purpose because it connected with nothing. An overpass on Myrtle
Avenue was about half finished, but there was no rush about completing it
because it couldn't be used. The contract had just been let for the
Riverside interchange.
That was all Jacksonville had to show for its money and the chances of
getting the expressway finished looked dim, indeed. But there was one
man who refused to go along with the defeatists and came up with the idea
that turned a bright light on the whole expressway. Pick out the biggest
bouquet in the pile and toss it to: State Sen. Fletcher Morgan.
Sen. Morgan discussed his idea of refinancing the inadequate bond issue
with financial experts and bond attorneys. They then told him his plan
was feasible, he went to Tallahassee and presented it to Gov. LeRoy
Collins. The governor deserves a bouquet, too, because he lent the plan
his immediate support and has continued to help all along the way.
Another bouquet belongs to State Road Board Chairman Wilbur Jones,
who also has gone along with the idea.
With the top state officials on his side, Sen. Morgan then "sold" the
plan to his legislative colleagues-Reps. Lacy Mahon, Jr., Harry
Westberry and William H. Maness. They put the bill through the 1955
Legislature creating the Jacksonville Expressway Authority.
The act directed that the governor appoint three members and that this
district's member of the State Road Board and the chairman of the Duval

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