I rode out along the first section of the Virginia Capital Trail in Richmond the other day. It’s the portion that runs along Dock Street, from about Bottom’s Up Pizza to Great Shiplock Park. I was really excited to see the progress made on what I’ve heard called the “Low Line Beautification Project.”
Where the Capital Trail runs under the elevated rail line, the weedy, ragged canal bank is being replaced with thousands of (mostly) native shrubs, plants and trees.
I remembered hearing about the project earlier this year, so when I got home I Googled around to find out more. It’s a collaborative effort led by a non-profit group called Capital Trees, and the work along the “Low Line” is actually part of a $825,000, five-year effort at East End beautification funded almost entirely with private money. RVA News recently ran a great feature about the project:
“This was where Lincoln landed when he came to claim Richmond,” said (Jeannette) McKittrick (of Capital Trees). “It’s an important area to Richmond industrial history. It’s where the tobacco barges came in and out (the slips are still there underneath those weeds), and there’s also a real environmental opportunity there.”
The Low Line work was first announced in October of last year, and has certainly been given a boost by the UCI World Cycling Championships coming to Richmond next month. But if it can be maintained going forward, when put next to Great Shiplock Park, Chapel Island and all the work going on with the almost-finished Capital Trail in the area, the ambitious project has a chance to be the capstone for an area that just a couple of years ago, looked pretty rough.
As far as the landscape of Low Line, they’ve used mostly native plants, wrote Susan Howson, of RVA News. McKittrick envisions a space that can be friendly to both humans and wildlife –“Essentially, it’s a 5 1/2 acre riparian buffer. It’s a filter for water, and with all these native plants, we’re going to have native bugs and birds and try and restore some of the ecosystem.”