VA Guard aids Richmond with pedestrian friendly construction project

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The City of Richmond is trying to become more pedestrian friendly and it's causing a major traffic alert for one heavily traveled road.

Crews started work on a new biking and walking trail off the Richmond-Henrico Turnpike this weekend. The work is closing the turnpike at the intersections of Valley Road and Dove Street until the end of the month.

The City has budgeted over a million dollars this year to build walking trails or "greenways" like this one. The National Guard came out today to start clearing trees and other plants to make way for the greenway.

The National Guard is using this project as a training exercise - saving the City over $125,000 to build this trail. Cynthia Jenkins walks through this area every week.

"It might be kind of dangerous," Jenkins said. "The street is very narrow so whatever they're trying to build will probably be helpful."

This area used to be a dumping ground for many Richmonders. Now city leaders are hoping to make it a safer and more environmentally friendly way for people to travel through the Northside.

Charles Price is on the mayor's Bike and Pedestrian Trail Commission. He says this strip of trees running through the city is a natural spot for a trail like this.

"It's a great spot for a trail," Price said.  "This is an area in the city that doesn't have a huge amount of recreational activities."

Once it's completed, it'll give pedestrians and cyclists a safer route from the Northside, all the way downtown. City leaders involved with this are touting it as a little piece of the country in the city.

"We got a lot of areas in the city where there's the potential for greenways where people can enjoy the quietude and solace and the beautiful tree covering of the countryside, right here in the city," Price said.

The National Guard will be working there for the next two weeks or so.

Pedestrians like Jenkins say they're looking forward to not walking in the street anymore.

"It's shady," Jenkins said.  "It's very nice."

This is just the first phase for the Cannon Creek Greenway. The second phase will start next summer.

The plan is eventually to connect this trail to the Capital Trail downtown and the East Coast Greenway that stretches all the way from Maine to Florida. The Richmond-Henrico Turnpike will reopen in August.

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