Richmond Riverfront: VEPCO levee and Haxall Canal are key
On July 13, I had the opportunity to meet with members of the City of Richmond Department of Planning and Development and the consultant team from the architecture firm Hargreaves Associates hired to execute the plans to promote two of my favorite downtown Richmond riverfront projects: the VEPCO levee and opening the Haxall Canal at Brown’s Island to paddlers. We’ll get […]
On July 13, I had the opportunity to meet with members of the City of Richmond Department of Planning and Development and the consultant team from the architecture firm Hargreaves Associates hired to execute the plans to promote two of my favorite downtown Richmond riverfront projects: the VEPCO levee and opening the Haxall Canal at Brown’s Island to paddlers.
We’ll get to hear more about the potential and give your input for development of the riverfront in downtown Richmond Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at the Virginia War Memorial.
The first plea I made to the architects in July was to renovate the scenic bridge that runs over the old VEPCO levee between Brown’s Island on the north side and the Manchester climbing wall on the south side of the James River. From this vantage point, visitors can see trains running the double-track CSX Viaduct; the granite pillars that remain from the Richmond & Petersburg Railway Bridge (a major Confederate supply and escape route); the rapids created by the Manchester Dam that runs all the way across the James, under the Manchester Bridge to the Southside rapids at the Floodwall.
Fortunately, a few of the architects had seen the riverfront features I was talking about, either during a whitewater rafting tour, a jog or walk through the area or by car. The conversation was good and I felt like I got my point across about the VEPCO levee and how important it would be to the riverfront development.
There are very few ways to view ways to view the wildest areas of downtown. The mixture of the downtown skyscrapers and the great blue heron rookery and the ability to get so close to the wild James River are too good to pass up. We have to take advantage of that beautiful area and make it more of a feature for downtown Richmond.
Imagine all the fun ways this walkway could be used with all the fantastic events and adventure games that Richmond hosts, not to mention the daily walkers that frequent the area. Connecting the SunTrust complex could help relieve parking for some popular downtown events as well.
I also detailed extensively with the architects a plan for opening the Haxall Canal to paddlers, which would connect Pipeline Rapids from behind the Christopher Newport’s “Cross” on Canal Walk to the western end of Brown’s Island and put back in the water at Tredegar Beach, 100 feet away. White water paddlers could do that circuit all day and I’ve had many tell me they love the concept. The distance is only half a mile and would just require the construction of a dock behind “Cross.”
I support most any effort to make Richmond more bike-friendly and improvements to the riverfront in accordance to the Downtown Master Plan [PDF]. I’m also in favor of more action and less expensive studies. Let’s stop the perpetual planning meetings and get something done. Here are some ideas I’ve written about:
- Connecting Brown’s Island to Manchester via VEPCO levee
- Restore and reopen the Kanawha Canal to paddlers
- Build at boardwalk at Pipeline Rapids
- Develop Chapel Island and make it part of JRPS
- Fix the Intermediate Terminal
- Beautify the granite rip-rap on the Floodwall
- Open the Haxall Canal at Brown’s Island to paddlers
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