Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney spoke at City Hall on Wednesday to outline what the future holds for the city’s network of roads, bike paths and pedestrian infrastructure.
Stoney and other city officials addressed the Department of Public Works’ measures to implement the city’s crash-reduction initiative, Vision Zero, and the Richmond Police Department’s plan to improve pedestrian and traffic safety through engineering, awareness and enforcement.
“The goal behind each of these programs is simple,” Stoney said. “We want [a] safe and high quality of life for each of our residents no matter what neighborhood they live in, in the great city of Richmond.”
Stoney said his administration has invested more than $70 million in road improvements alone since he arrived at the mayor’s office in 2016. This year, the city improved more than 200 miles of streets, including the repaving of Broad and Main streets.
I know that paving isn’t sexy, but it damn sure makes a difference,” Stoney said.
Richmond has also added several traffic calming measures like speed humps and roundabouts to more than 350 locations, installed thousands of high-visibility crosswalks and established more than 62 miles of bike infrastructure, Stoney said.
The quality of Richmond’s roadways have improved dramatically since 2019 when only 35% of its roads were considered to be in good or better condition, according to a rubric developed by the city’s Department of Public Works. As of 2022, 64% of the city’s roads are in good or better condition.
“We’ve been measuring and assessing our streets as well as our sidewalks, in order to make things as safe and as passable for our citizens and our residents,” said Bobby Vincent, director of public works.
In addition to paving, Vincent said they’re also utilizing their funding sources to be more efficient and equitable by implementing some traffic calming efforts in addition to improving city infrastructure, like adding more than 150 speed tables, or speed humps, to city streets.
Vincent touted some notable improvements in areas like Gilpin Court and the addition of speed tables along the city’s high-injury network, identified in the Vision Zero action plan.
Richmond traffic engineer Michael Sawyer said that over the next six years the city hopes to spend millions to provide safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all road users.
“Our infrastructure is ongoing and continuing, but I believe the future is bright as far as funding goes for Vision Zero,” Sawyer said.
This year Richmond applied for $20 million dollars in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All grant, which would go towards implementing the city’s Complete Streets initiative — a policy committed to providing safer, more livable roadways.
Designing safer streets is only half the battle. Police are looking at ways to enforce traffic safety and correct driver behavior, said Richmond police Maj. Donald Davenport.
“The biggest thing we have to focus on is speed,” Davenport said. “As you heard from the city traffic engineer, speed is one of the biggest factors, especially when you talk about the fatal crashes.”
In 2022, Richmond has suffered 31 fatal crashes, 10 of which involved pedestrians, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s traffic records.
Davenport said each of the city’s four police precincts have identified areas in their communities where these crashes are likely to occur and are starting a 90-day campaign to reduce aggressive, impaired and inattentive driving. Their campaign began Monday.
Richmond police are also planning to partner with Virginia State Police to set up sobriety checkpoints throughout the city, Davenport said.