Council to CAO: Create plan to aid businesses impacted by BRT

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 4/12/2016, 5:59 a.m.
Restaurants and other businesses along Broad Street could receive financial help to survive the expected 15 months of construction of ...

Restaurants and other businesses along Broad Street could receive financial help to survive the expected 15 months of construction of the GRTC’s Bus Rapid Transit system.

Richmond City Council has directed Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ administration to come up with a plan “that identifies potential adverse impacts of construction” and identifies “grants, loans and tax incentives … to mitigate any negative impacts.”

In a 9-0 vote, council issued the directive to Selena Cuffee-Glenn, the city’s chief administrative officer, at the March 28 meeting, six weeks after giving the green light to the 7.6-mile, $53.8 million BRT system to be called GRTC Pulse.

Work on the Pulse is to begin during the summer.

Councilman Charles R. Samuels, 2nd District, said the city must be prepared to address business fears that customers will be chased away during installation work. That work includes removing street medians, improving traffic lights and installing 14 BRT stations, chiefly in the area between Thompson and 4th streets on Broad Street.

Three other council members, including Kathy C. Graziano, 4th District, Ellen F. Robertson, 6th District, and Michelle R. Mosby, 9th District, also were patrons of the legislation that seeks to have Richmond establish programs like those put in place in Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Portland and other cities when they installed BRT projects.

Separately, council approved 9-0 a nonbinding resolution at the March 28 meeting endorsing the Pulse, but with the “expectation that (GRTC) will conduct studies to ensure greater transit connectivity to the proposed Pulse route” from the East End and other neighborhoods, commercial corridors and areas of the city that are not near the Pulse line.

The resolution also calls for GRTC to seek public input for such studies and report the results to council by Nov. 1, or six months after the passage of the resolution.

Pulse is to run mostly on Broad between The Shops at Willow Lawn in the West End and Rocketts Landing in the East End. Part of the line would run on Main Street between 14th Street and Rocketts Landing.

Some utility work might begin in the coming weeks, but actual development of the BRT is to begin by July or August, according to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The state Department of Transportation has yet to choose the finalist to develop BRT. Three design-build teams are competing and VDOT could make its selection this month, according to GRTC.

The BRT, like other buses, will run with other traffic between Willow Lawn and Thompson streets and between 14th Street and Rocketts Landing, according to GRTC.

BRT is to run on dedicated curb lanes between 4th and 14th streets and then run in a dedicated median lane between Thompson and 4th, GRTC has stated.

The system is to cost about $49.8 million to install, mostly with federal and state funds, with the city contributing $7.9 million and Henrico County about $400,000. About $4 million was spent on preliminary engineering, GRTC has said, which puts the projected final cost around $53.8 million.