Manchester dealing with growing pains during economic transformation

Pedestrian safety is a top concern in the area
The Manchester Alliance is trying to address pedestrian safety as the area sees growth.
Published: Jun. 19, 2023 at 6:40 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - If you’ve been over to Manchester lately, you’ve probably noticed lots of construction crews.

The Manchester Alliance says that’s because the area is undergoing an economic transformation, with more apartment complexes and businesses expected to come soon.

“This was a warehouse of wasteland; people didn’t really come to Southside, they didn’t come across the Mayo Bridge, and now, 20 years later, we have these wonderful buildings,” said Glenda Kotchish Manchester Alliance president. “We have more than one restaurant.”

However, as more construction projects keep popping up for new apartments and eateries and more people keep moving to Manchester, the area is now facing growing pains.

Pedestrian safety is a top concern. There are no crosswalks along several busy sections of the area and many are left having to cross multiple lanes of traffic at their own risk.

It’s something the Manchester Alliance is trying to address.

“I know we’re going to get a crosswalk or a light at Fifth and Hull in 2025. It seems like a long way off, but we’re asking possibly for more, and so we’re working on making it safe,” Kotchish stated.

The economic growth is also expected to create some riffs when it comes to parking, which is something Manchester is already struggling with and has formed a committee to try to find solutions to.

“We’re getting information from all of the people in the neighborhood ... do we need to have permits? Do we need to have paid parking? Do we need another garage? We have one garage,” Kotchish said.

City Council chimed in on the issue and while they are currently looking at putting in more crosswalks around the entire city and have been addressing parking problems, they say some of the responsibility needs to fall on the driver.

”Slow down when you’re coming into an area that is densely populated (with) businesses all around. Become a defensive driver and expect someone to shoot out,” explained Richmond City Council member Mike Jones.

While not much has been set in stone yet when it comes to how the area will adjust to the increase in traffic woes, city leaders say that despite some of the problems on the roadway, the growth coming to Manchester will ease other disparities like affordable housing.

”It’s going to be mixed-use,” said Jones. “It’s going to be creative living spaces, but it’s also going to be affordable having an affordable component as well.”