© 2019 Thad Williamson. Authorized and Paid For By Thad Williamson For Richmond City Council.

  • Thad Williamson

Fifty Fixes for the 5th, #21-25: Improving Transportation and Accessibility

This installment of Fifty Fixes focuses on transportation--helping residents of the 5th District better get around!

21. Create a new Department of Transportation with a Multi-modal, Safety-first Orientation

We urgently need a Department of Transportation led by a director oriented towards multi-modal transportation in City Hall (including pedestrians and pedestrian safety). The new department needs to integrate staff working on transportation-related issues currently dispersed in different departments, and it needs to lead the City’s relationship with GRTC.

When I worked in City Hall, I saw firsthand the challenges our current structure posed for project management of GRTC Pulse construction. I also saw firsthand a frustrating lack of communication between GRTC and the City administration on fiscal issues; as one of the largest recipients of non-departmental funding from the City of Richmond there needs to be transparent, yearlong dialogue about GRTC’s funding needs and what it has done with previously allocated funds. The new Department of Transportation should lead that conversation.

The idea of creating a Department of Transportation has been discussed inside the administration; I will support moving it forward should it be proposed this year. As evidenced by the tragic events of this week and other pedestrian deaths in our city this year, its initial focus should be promoting safety holistically.

22. Push for a Regional Transportation Network

Continued progress towards development of a regional transit system using primarily county and state resources – this is included in an important set of priorities that I helped establish and outline in the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission Report. Regional transportation is essential to better connect all residents to job opportunities throughout our region. Richmond currently ranks near the bottom of “Top 100” metropolitan areas in job accessibility via transit - development of such a system would be transformative for the 5th District and the entire city.

Building on the momentum established by the GRTC Pulse, and recent expansion of bus service to Short Pump in Henrico, we need to keep pushing for a comprehensive plan to connect our region together and promote access to employment opportunities for city residents, including those without a car. This likely must take the form of additional BRT-style corridors along our major regional arteries.

23. Expanded Bus Service for the 5th!

More frequent service within the 5th District to connect residents to emerging employment opportunities at or near Richmond Marine Terminal (Port of Richmond) and to connect residents more directly to the GRTC Pulse. Unfortunately, there is currently no direct service connecting Byrd Park, Randolph and Maymont residents to the Pulse via north-south arteries like Robinson Street … this needs to change! Expanded service along Robinson Street has been listed as a priority by the Richmond 300 “Future Connections” map.

24. Shelter From the Storm

It’s time to install shelters at bus stops wherever feasible to provide bus riders with shade, seating, and protection from the elements. This is a matter of basic decency and concern for regular riders, and also will help encourage more people to use the bus.

25. Share the Road! Promote and Protect Biking

Complete outstanding and proposed 5th District projects in the Bicycle Master Plan including a Roanoke Street bike lane, buffered bike lanes on Westover Hills Boulevard, while slowing car traffic and improving safety on existing bike lanes like Semmes Avenue. Previously I wrote in-depth about the implementation of Vision Zero to make our streets safer; successful implementation of a bold pedestrian safety strategy will also benefit bikes (as would fewer potholes), but we also need specific public safety campaigns aimed at getting drivers to respect bicyclists sharing our roads.