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Posted In: Environment

Major James River Park Renovation Scheduled

Andy Thompson

@richmondoutside
April 13, 2015 10:01am
The 21st Street entrance to the James River Park. Picture taken looking at Riverside Drive.

The 21st Street entrance to the James River Park. Picture taken looking at Riverside Drive.

The James River Association has received $90,000 in funding from Altria to install a stormwater management and beautification project at the 21st Street Tower entrance to Belle Isle, which is part of the UCI 2015 Road World Championship course.

This site is one of the main access points to the James River Park and will also be prominently used as a time trial race route for the 2015 event. With over 107,000 visitors on foot and bike annually, the 21st Street entrance suffers from severe erosion and degradation.

I took the pictures included in this post a couple of days ago when I was coming through on my mountain bike. They give you a sense of how eroded the landscape is.

According to the Friends of the James River ParkImprovements include the removal of the defunct shelter next to the street, defined stepping-stone pathways, a bike repair station, and bike parking. In addition, the site plan includes rain gardens filled with native plant species to reduce maintenance while beautifying the area. Work is scheduled to start [soon] and should be completed by May 1st. During the construction period, access to the tower will be restricted to the easternmost path that connects to the head of the tower from Riverside Drive.

21st Street landing area, looking toward the new Buttermilk East Trail.

21st Street landing area, looking toward the new Buttermilk East Trail.

In addition to the renovations made possible through Altria and the James River Association, the Public Works Traffic Engineering Department will improve pedestrian access with the installation of curb cuts, cross walks, and pedestrian crossing signs.

“The James River Association is proud to partner with the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities and the dedicated employees of Altria to restore one of Richmond’s most popular outdoor spaces in James River Park,” said Bill Street, CEO for the James River Association. “By making improvements to the 21st Street entrance, we can continue our work to improve the health of the James for generations to come.”

Old city curb stones have been massed above the site in preparation for the landscape redesign.

Old city curb stones have been massed above the site in preparation for the landscape redesign.

“This project brings a variety of like minded organizations to provide an enhanced and “green” conversation project that will improve access to a very important asset to the James River Park,” said Dr. Norman C. Merrifield, Director of the City of Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities.

The project will be completed this spring.


About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?


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