City planning to enhance MLK Bridge

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The city's trying to make the MLK Bridge a better way to connect the east end with the downtown. It's going to take out a lane on each side to make the bridge more pedestrian friendly.

Fewer cars are using the MLK these days. It was built 35 years ago as a major thorough fare and the city's hoping to build it back up as a shortcut from the downtown to the east end.

More cyclists and pedestrians are certainly taking this route...trying to get over to the MCV campus and this is the new vision for the MLK. The city wants to add plants and bushes, a larger walkway for pedestrians and even dedicated bike lanes on both sides of the road. To do this, the bridge will have to shrink from 6 to 4 lanes.

This doesn't seem to be much of a problem for cyclists like Rick Headley.

"I think that would be great because I don't know how many times I've almost been like almost hit by cars," he said.

Headley rides this way every day to avoid the big hill he'd have to peddle up on Broad Street.

"I know a lot of friends that bike this way too. So I think that would be really great," said Headley.

We also showed the city's designs for the bridge to Marquetta Fisher.

"There's a lot of health issues in the world right now and it's a good walk. It's like a 28 minute walk to go across, so I think it would be nice. It would be a lot prettier," she said.

She walks this way five days a week with her grandson to get a little exercise.

"Great idea. Great idea. Get more people to walk downtown. Spend some money," Fisher added.

The city's applied for a federal grant to pay for this project; it will find out early next year if it's going to get the money to move forward with construction.

If the city gets the 2 million dollar federal grant, it will have to pony up about $250,000 for the project.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.