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A Trolley for Manchester?

There is talk of bringing back the trolley that used to connect Manchester to Chesterfield County along the Jefferson Davis Highway. Or at least Chesterfield is talking about it. And while it might seem like a bit of a pipe dream, how cool would it be to see trolleys running again!?

According to a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article entitled Newest Jeff Davis Corridor plan suggests trolley system, Chesterfield County doesn’t seem content to wait on the City of Richmond and its rapid transit plans:

The newest version of a plan aimed at reviving the struggling northern Jefferson Davis Highway corridor in Chesterfield County includes a suggestion for a trolley system.

The Northern Jefferson Davis Area Plan frames the idea as a solution to the area’s transportation needs within the next five years. But some critics wondered why an extension of the bus rapid transit system isn’t the near-term solution.

The Chesterfield Planning Commission took up the newest draft of the plan Tuesday, and decided to continue the discussion next month. Members expect to hold a public hearing on the plan in September.

The plan covers the stretch of land along U.S. 1 from the Richmond city limits to Old Bermuda Hundred Road between the James River and CSX railroad line.

 

This idea is not without precedent. There used to be a trolley line along this important corridor. According to Chester’s Village News article THAT WAS THEN: Click Clack:

It was so much easier to jump on a trolley and head to Richmond to shop at Thalhimer’s or to Petersburg for lunch and tea especially if you didn’t have a car, which at the time of the trolley that rolled down Jefferson Davis Highway was the only way to go north or south along Route 1. It stopped at designated locations like the one still standing in Bensley.

The electric trolley system initially ran from Manchester, which was part of Chesterfield at the time, 1909, to the DuPont plant. According to Chesterfield: An old Virginia County by Francis Lutz, “An electric line through Chesterfield was realized and was built by the Richmond and Petersburg Electric Railway Company.

“By 1945 the line was defunct and was superseded by bus service.”

I don’t know if Chesterfield has the money and dedication to kick off this ambitious trolley plan. But if they do, wow, what a different place Jefferson Davis Highway could be! And the area’s residents would reap enormous benefits with the trolley system helping stitch Manchester and all of South Richmond back together, especially for those who don’t own cars. Only time will tell if this is real, or just dreaming. I am hoping for the former.

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  1. Hate to burst your bubble, but they are talking about a "trolley" line like Roanoke has. It’s just a bus that looks like a trolley, not an actual trolley, and the transit oriented group RVA Rapid Transit points out that the Roanoke trolley is designed for densely populated areas and questions why the county wouldn’t just extend the GRTC to a stable hourly route. This is just Chesterfields way of looking like they’re serious about public transit when they really aren’t, we won’t see a trolley on Jeff Davis.

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