Chesterfield plans slate of pedestrian-focused infrastructure
The county’s pursuing funding through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program.
Chesterfield County’s transportation department got the OK Thursday from the board of supervisors to apply for funding for several pedestrian-focused projects.
Some potential improvements include a new sidewalk on Forest Hill Avenue between Choctaw Road and Anwell Drive — which would allow residents in Bon Air access to two Greater Richmond Transit Company bus stops — and new crosswalks with traffic signals at the intersections of Beach and Ironbridge Roads, as well as Hull Street and Genito Roads. The latter intersection sees roughly 60,000 vehicles per day, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“We said, let's look at signalized crossings that don't have push buttons,” said Chessa Walker, assistant transportation director for the county, while discussing potential future commercial construction.
She said supervisors approved the department’s list of potential projects and passed a resolution to seek grant funding from the Transportation Alternatives Program.
TAP funding — which comes from the federal level, then trickles down to the state through the Virginia Department of Transportation — only can be used for small-scale projects, Walker said.
“The county has used it primarily for bike-ped projects, and we've been successful in securing TAP funding for smaller projects,” Walker said.
VDOT requires localities to match some of the funding, with the state contributing 80% through federal funds.
Walker said her department is strategic when it comes to what projects they seek funding for.
“They need to be small in size. We try to shoot for half-a-million to a million dollars or less,” Walker said. “We can't do as much with a million dollars. So, we're trying to find projects that don't require a lot of right-of-away acquisition.”
Not having to move gas or power lines is also a consideration — anything to keep the department within that budget range.
The county’s goal, Walker said, has been to use TAP money to build crosswalks on routes that see a high volume of traffic and are known for pedestrian-related crashes. Previous areas where the county’s installed crosswalks include spots on U.S. Route 1 and Midlothian Turnpike.
But it’s just the beginning of the process. First, the county must put together a single application encompassing all the projects they're seeking TAP funding for. Then, Chesterfield’s application will compete with those submitted by other localities for the funds. Those applications are reviewed by VDOT for eligibility before the Commonwealth Transportation Board and two other transportation planning organizations — the Richmond Regional Transportation Organization and the Tri-Cities Planning Organization — will select projects to fund.
“Because we’re so big geographically, we’re in two [transportation organizations],” Walker said.
Final applications are due on Oct. 2.
If the projects are selected, Walker said it’ll take four to six years before they’re completed.