|Tracks into Main Street Station|
|Map from Richmond Downtown Plan (full size pdf)|
"Cities are naturally mixed-use, mixed-income, and multi-modal"
Richmond has decided to restore many of the traditional elements that made the city a vibrant place. Most of the two-way streets that were converted to one-way to increase vehicular traffic will revert back to their original form. The streetcar system that ran through Broad Street and many other corridors, shaping the form of the city, may be resurrected. According to the plan, the pedestrian will once again be honored and made to feel comfortable and safe.
Everything in this plan seems to be spot on. The parking strategy is sensible (paid parking will kick in when demand meets 85% of supply), traffic speeds are managed to be conducive for a livable environment, and cyclists are taken seriously. There is a robust plan for infill development (each of the red buildings on the map are proposed new buildings), an aggressive street tree planting regime, and an integrated system of small urban parks. The plan recommends form-based codes over zoning regulations, requiring attractive street frontages and architecture that integrates into the historic heritage of the city.
It appears as if principles from this plan will guide the improvements made to Main Street Station. Richmond is fortunate to still have it's historic rail station (even if it is literally partially underneath I-95). It could either be transformed into a multi-modal hub and woven seamlessly into the downtown, or it could be surrounded by parking lots and cut off from the downtown completely. With an adopted plan that has been thoroughly hashed out by the citizens, the city has a good chance of winning this battle when it arises.
After reading this plan, I made a return trip to Richmond. Walking around the downtown, I imagined how each little section could be transformed according to this blueprint. There is something exciting about a place that has combined potential with vision, and if a few million federal dollars start to arrive, a catalyst to make it happen.