In case you haven’t noticed, Richmond has all the potential to be a great bike town. The ground work is laid. There have been studies such as the Richmond Green Infrastructure Assessment which show us exactly how close we are to having a fully connected system of trails. The Mayor even talks a good game with the goals that he has outlined with the forming of the Pedestrian, Bicycling and Trails Planning Commission. It does seem, however that we are a ways off from achieving the goal of “great bike town”.
James River News Hub and Richmond.com (both articles written by Phil Riggan) take a look at a couple of those gaps. The Crooked Branch Ravine which is located in
Westover Hills Northrup/Forest Hill Terrace Neighborhood would hook up the greenways and Forest Hill Park. Crooked Branch Ravine is also a good example of measures that can be taken to improve runoff into the Reedy Creek watershed. Another piece in the missing trail puzzle is the proposed James River Branch Rail-Trail, the rail-to-trail project connecting 49th Street near George Wythe High School eastward to Cofer Road. The James River Branch Rail-Trail would be a great step in the right direction. That step isn’t going to happen without a lot of work from everyone involved most significantly CSX. From the Richmond.com article;
“Trail development takes a long time and people generally aren’t aware of how long it takes,” Wampler said. The James River Branch Rail-Trail project has been in the planning stages since at least January 2009.
At least two years and counting. That may seem like a long time to wait for a linear trail to be built, but there are many complicated steps to converting land from useless to multi-use.
The biggest roadblock for this project is that the land belongs to CSX Corporation, but the railroad giant has not been in a generous mood. It has been proposed that CSX could donate the land and get a tax break. Wampler said that would be nice, but “typically with linear parks, there isn’t much acreage to make a big difference” economically for the donating party.
So for now a roughly 2.5 mile stretch of potential multi-use trail that could help push our city in the right direction will remain overgrown and increasingly a dumping ground.