Whenever we post an article about improving access to the James River, views on the Dogtown Dish absolutely skyrocket. It is mind boggling at first, but it really shouldn’t be if we think about it. We need to reconnect to nature given our highly technical, stressful, and social media dominated world. The James River is where Richmond can make that connection.
So if there is only one message for 2017 we wanted to convey to our local politicians and administrators who read the Dish, it would be this: Richmond is in love with the James River. Take a trip to the T-Pot Bridge on a Saturday amongst the crowd of walkers, bikers, city residents, suburbanites, and tourists alike, and this fact should be self-evident.
Richmond’s love affair with the James River is so wonderfully simple that it reminds us of the now legendary phrase the Clinton campaign used during the 1992 presidential election to focus their priorities. James Carville coined the saying “It’s the Economy Stupid” to focus the team. The catchy quip reminded the campaign staff amongst a sea of competing topics that if they focused on the economy, they could win. And win they did.
Richmond politicians and administrators should take note. While schools rightfully get a tremendous amount of airtime, Richmond wants its limited tax dollars spent on projects that improve the experience for resident and tourist alike in the form of featuring our greatest asset-The James River. These natural experiences help us market our burgeoning city to the world and convince businesses to invest, jobs to be created, and new residents to move downtown. All those people and activity create tax dollars which can go toward funding schools.
So local politicians and administrators if you are reading, please remember just one thing: “It’s the River Stupid.”
First Published May 28, 2017
By: Laura Dyer Hild
The T. Tyler Potterfield Pedestrian Bridge has brought local residents and the outside community together by connecting downtown Richmond to the Manchester neighborhood. Many people are now able to interact with the James River in a completely unique way, solidifying the river as the city’s greatest asset. Who doesn’t want to have the sense of “walking on water” especially when the river is creating class 4/5 rapids after many days of rain that we’ve recently experienced? I’ve seen huge trees made to look like toothpicks when being washed down the mighty James.
But there’s more to experience, and the walk across the bridge needs to provide a complete Loop from the southside of the river to the northside. While walking the T-Pot Bridge from Brown’s Island to Manchester, time and time again I’ve had non-city dwellers ask me if the trail continues. People do not want to back track, but to move forward and complete a continuous Loop from where they started. Because I’m familiar with the area, I walk from my Church Hill home down to the canal to Brown’s Island and cross the T-Pot Bridge. From there, I continue onward to the Manchester Floodwall Walk and cross the Mayo Bridge to get back to Church Hill. Other people not so familiar with the area simply cross the T-Pot Bridge from Brown’s Island and back track back to where they started because they may not realize that there is a Loop to experience.
Unfortunately, that Loop isn’t the most pleasant when it comes to crossing the Mayo Bridge. The bridge is more of a dainty 6 ounce tea cup than a gigantic 64 ounce plastic big gulp container found at your local 7-11. It was never built to handle such heavy vehicle traffic. Some of that traffic, and all trucks, should be diverted to the Manchester Bridge. The Manchester Bridge (more of a Big Gulp than a T Cup) has six lanes total going north and south, and takes you right into the heart of downtown. The Mayo Bridge has four lanes total going north and south with a very small sliver of sidewalk where many people traverse back and forth across the bridge. Not only are people driving, walking, and biking across the Mayo Bridge, there are also people fishing from the bridge. Even though the speed limit is 35 mph (and 25 mph for a portion), people are treating the road as a raceway and going well over the speed limit. One fatal move of a driver and anyone biking, walking, or fishing could wind up being road kill. Check out our prior Fix The Mayo Bridge article that talks about this in further detail.
The Mayo Bridge should be reduced to two lanes with a better pedestrian experience incorporated into the design. Doing this would complete the urban Loop that local residents and out of towners could experience beyond the T-Pot Bridge. Below is a visual that shows the Loop connecting the T-Pot Bridge to the Manchester Floodwall Walk to the Mayo Bridge to the Canal Walk.
RVA don’t stop now with just the T-Pot Bridge. Let’s keep going by completing that much needed experience with THE LOOP!! Let’s put into place the continuation of the riverfront plan and much needed pedestrian friendly improvements to the Mayo Bridge!