This coming weekend the East Coast Greenway Alliance is holding its semi-annual meeting in Richmond. If you’re not familiar with the ECG, check out my column from Sunday’s Times-Dispatch. In researching the piece, I talked to Jake Helmboldt, Richmond’s Pedestrian, Bicycle and Trails Coordinator. We talked about the ECG but also greenways generally in Central Virginia.
Pedestrian bridge east of Gunn’s Run on the Virginia Capital Trail
One of the items we discussed was the James River Branch Trail. Back in 2009, City Councilman Doug Conner came forward with a proposal to convert an old CSX right-of-way into a greenway in Southside Richmond. A conceptual plan was drawn up for the 2.5-mile linear trail that would run from 49th St. near George Wythe east to Cofer Road. (Here’s a YouTube video of a section of the future trail.) It’s one of the few proposed greenways in the city that have moved beyond the idea stage. In the past, the stumbling block to moving forward with the James Branch Trail was the owner.”Basically CSX wanted a lot of money for it,” Helmboldt said.
They looked to see if there was a land swap they could do with CSX, but “that kind of went nowhere.”
So the project has been in limbo for many months, but there could finally be some movement. “The latest thing is the Trust for Public Land is really interested in trying to help us out with that. So, it may catch fire,” Helmboldt said. “That may be finally the lynch pin to get things moving.”
Progress is never swift in the world of greenways and trail building. There’s much work to be done, but this one to keep your eye on.