RICHMOND, Va. -- Nearly every seat was taken inside City Council chambers Monday night as Richmonders passionately made their pleas regarding the final design plans for GRTC’s Bus Rapid Transit or BRT. While a budget plan for the project has already been approved, council members listened to citizen concerns over inclusion and cost.
The $50 million dollar project will transform Broad Street into a 7-mile stretch of frequently running buses, stretching from Willow Lawn to Rocket’s Landing. The plan includes 14 station locations and three and a half miles dedicated to bus-only lanes.
Proponents argue that the project will bring jobs, economic security and much needed public transportation to the region, at little cost to the City of Richmond.
“The federal and state government are paying $42 million of the $50 million cost to do it,” argued one Richmond resident. “That’s an incredible opportunity, it will never come again.”
Most of the public concerns, however, came from opponents of the project, who are urging city leaders to slow down and make plans more inclusive for all communities.
Some argued the current plans fail to reach low income neighborhoods and jeopardize other critically needed routes.
NAACP leader Lloyd Bryant said the project is a slap in the face to lower income families in need of transportation to jobs. He argues Rosa Parks fought for that right several years ago.
“People died to be able to get on public transportation,” Bryant said. “I would like my grandchildren to still (ride). We don’t need anything to divide the community.”
Construction for BRT is set to begin in March, but council members will consider final draft plans for construction implementation before the holidays.