In early January, I put out the call to readers via email: Share your predictions and/or hopes for the region by 2017.
Culling through the more than 100 responses that I received in less than eight hours, an overwhelming consensus emerged around three things: more access to the riverfront, developing a truly regional mass-transportation system and more emphasis on the arts/creativity found downtown. (See this page and Page 44 for a collection of some of the best prognosticating.)
With the 2015 World Road Cycling Championships — races that are expected to bring 450,000 spectators — nipping at our cleats, the push is on for the region to develop and focus on a manageable to-do list by then. And that list is starting to be made. For example, read about riverfront development priorities with an eye toward 2015 on Page 37.
Though the creation of a regional mass-transportation system by then would require a miracle, shuttling these cycling tourists around the region will be another emphasis — a focus that should also take into account suburban and urban residents. We've got the free Museums and Back bus on Saturdays through April 12 for moving folks around downtown, but far more will be needed when crowds double the size of those at the folk festival hit town. A bus-rapid transit route would surely help out, as would more express GRTC bus routes from the counties downtown, especially on the weekends.
An easy-to-follow shortlist of priorities by 2015 is imperative, and regular progress reports by a face who represents the region would be appreciated.
• The spring opening of Central Virginia's first world-class aquatics center, a 50,000-square-foot facility near Chippenham Parkway and Route 10
• Another GRTC public meeting on Bus Rapid Transit, focusing on a 7-mile stretch from Willow Lawn to Rocketts Landing
• A Feb. 18 meeting on a proposed slavery museum to be located in Shockoe Bottom
• Richmond's planning-commission review of the riverfront development plan
• The reveal of the architectural plans for VCU's Insti-tute of Contemporary Art
• By year's end, the opening of Amazon distribution centers in Meadowville Technology Park and Dinwiddie Commerce Park
• City Council's review of the downtown arts-district proposal
• The announcement of the race courses for the 2015 World Cycling Championships