RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Plans for a bike and pedestrian trail in north Richmond cleared a major hurdle today. The Richmond Planning Commission green lighted the creation of a new greenway along the Richmond-Henrico Turnpike.
As of now this area of north Richmond is a virtual dumping ground. The residents here want to see this place turned into a scenic greenway.
For years these woods in north Richmond were used as the city's unofficial dump. So much so, those two clean-up efforts over the last three years have removed more than 30 tons of trash and more than 400 tires.
"This opportunity to develop that area sort of spawned out of the blue. It's been talked about for a long time.... What could we do with this area?" said Raymond Turner with the Highland View Civic Association.
The city, under a push from Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, is designing a greenway. A 10 foot wide trail made of asphalt to wind through the woods for runners, walkers and cyclists.
"This area has been known as the city's dump for years and the community has put the energy into this plan," Robertson said.
Known as the Richmond-Henrico Turnpike, there's even a proposal before the city council to rename this stretch of road the Cannon Creek Greenway.
The proposal even calls for the trail to connect with East Coast Greenway - which runs from Maine to Florida, and the Capital Trail that would connect Richmond to Jamestown and Williamsburg.
"Cannon Creek is our back door. Many of our neighbors their backyards literally look into the Cannon Creek and at the present time, what they see is dumping and trash," said Ralph Harris with the Southern Barton Heights Community Association.
Dozens showed up at a planning commission meeting to show support for the project. And despite concerns at the number of trees that would have to be removed to build the trail, the estimate is 40, the plan will move forward.
The Planning Commission gave approval for the bike and pedestrian trail, which gives city engineers the go-ahead to design where exactly the trail will run through these woods.
If the designs are finished in the next few months, the National Guard will begin building the first phase of the trail this summer for free. The guard plans to construct phase 2 in the summer of 2012.