JACK BERRY

Jack BerryCandidates for Richmond mayor received questionnaires from local nonprofit organizations James River Association, Richmond Forward, RVA Rapid Transit, Sports Backers, and Storefront for Community Design. Their responses — regarding public education, transportation, urban planning and the riverfront — will guide the Mayorathon, a candidate forum scheduled for Sept. 29.

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Candidate Jack Berry’s responses to the questionnaires appear below.


Responses have been published as received; no content has been edited beyond being formatted for the web.

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EDUCATIONNEIGHBORHOODS | RIVER | TRANSIT

Biking / Walking

QUESTION 1 - TRANSPORTATION EQUITY

Biking and walking not only improves public health, but it is a prevalent form of transportation for people who can’t afford a car and/or gas, are too young to drive, or are not mentally or physically able to drive. According to Census data, nearly 22 percent of Richmond households do not own or otherwise have access to a car. The challenge for Richmond is to increase access to safe biking and walking for opportunities for all citizens. 

What measures can we expect your administration to take to expand access to safe walking and biking infrastructure for all Richmond residents?

JACK BERRY: Transportation equity reflects a commitment to build networks that serve everyone, not just those who can afford to drive a car.  Richmond’s transportation network should be multi-modal and balanced to serve the whole community.  More emphasis on biking and walking will have positive benefits in shaping the community, promoting economic development and influencing health.  Bike-ped infrastructure must be seamless, convenient and safe.  It should incorporate protected lanes, not just lines painted on a street.  We should build safe, walking and biking infrastructure that is part of a comprehensive network, not just a series of disconnected fragments.  Walking and biking infrastructure is important in attracting the young professionals who will power RVA’s economy in the future, and it is even more important for those residents who do not have access to a car.  Richmond’s bike infrastructure has a lot of catching up to do if we aspire to be among the great cities in America. The next mayor should commit to a sustained effort to build out a network of protected lanes, leveraging transportation grants with annual appropriations of local funds.  Most importantly, the mayor must be capable of building a strong City Government organization that will ensure prompt execution of approved projects so that thoughtful plans become a reality, not just a talking point. 

QUESTION 2 - COMPLETE STREETS

In October of 2014, Richmond City Council passed a Complete Streets Resolution (No. 2014-R172-170) that states the City will – within one year – modify street design and construction manuals, codes, ordinances, and standards to reflect that “all transportation improvement projects in the city be planned for, designed, and constructed to provide appropriate accommodation for persons of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit passengers, and motorists, while promoting safe operations for all users.” Nearly two years later, these changes have not been adopted.

If elected Mayor, how would you work to implement the City’s Complete Streets Policy?

BERRY: Complete streets are streets for everyone.  They are designed not just for cars, but for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.  Complete streets give people alternatives to the automobile that are safe, convenient and attractive.  Design features often include crosswalks, curb extensions, bike lanes and narrower travel lanes.  As the City prepares to update its Master Plan, the Complete Streets policy should be integrated into every neighborhood plan.  It is unfortunate that nearly two years after the adoption of the Complete Streets Resolution, the necessary codes, standards and construction manuals have not yet been modified to reflect the broad policy.  There is a recurring theme that Council policies don’t always get translated into actual implementation. There must be a commitment from the Mayor’s Office that adoption of policies will be followed by effective execution.  That takes a strong organization.  Execution of approved plans is what high performing cities do.  We should expect no less.

QUESTION 3 - VISION ZERO

Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. On March 7, 2016, Richmond City Council passed a Vision Zero Resolution (No. 2016-R011) that “supports the development of a Vision Zero program for the City of Richmond with the goal of reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries in road traffic to zero by the year 2030.”

As Mayor, what policy steps would you take to improve education, engineering, enforcement, and emergency response with the purpose of achieving zero traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030?

BERRY: Within our local transportation network, those walking or biking are the most vulnerable.  City Council has called for a Vision Zero strategy, but the support resolution will be an empty gesture unless an action plan is adopted and fully implemented.  There should be a comprehensive set of policies and a focused plan to coordinate implementation across all City departments.  The plan should include educational outreach to teach the public about traffic laws and the importance of yielding.  Speed limits should be reviewed and enforcement actions should be coordinated.  All of the new roundabouts installed throughout the city are designed to calm traffic and improve safety, but they only work when there is a common understanding about how the public, both drivers and pedestrians, are supposed to use them.  Broad policies are an important first step, but implementation is what matters.  That takes strong leadership from the mayor’s office. 

QUESTION 4 - INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

In May of 2015, the City of Richmond finished work on the city’s first Bicycle Master Plan, which calls for implementation of 135 miles of new bikeways by 2025. By the end of 2016, the city will have 25 miles of bikeways on the ground, all of which have been “low hanging fruit”. However, few if any of our new bikeways connect to each other or major destinations.

As Mayor, how would you grow the mileage of bikeways in Richmond to fill in the gaps and form a connected network?

BERRY: The City has an impressive Bicycle Master Plan, but thus far the implementation of the bikeways plan has been slow and disjointed.  A policy, plan or project is only as good as its execution. There needs to be a concerted effort across departmental lines to resolve issues and get projects moving.  Connecting communities through a seamless network is the primary goal.  Every isolated project helps, but the real value comes when they are connected.  There should be goals, annual targets and accountability to the community for achieving results.   

QUESTION 5 - FUNDING

Establishing safe and accessible places for people to bike and walk for transportation will require additional funding for capital projects, either in the form of Federal grants, State revenue-sharing, or the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). In May of 2016, Mayor Jones proposed $500,000 in the FY2017 CIP budget for bicycle infrastructure – more than any previous fiscal year – in addition to funding for sidewalks, crosswalks, and traffic calming. Furthermore, City Council added $300,000 to fully fund the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, a walking and biking bridge from Brown’s Island to Manchester.

Do you support pursuing additional funding (in the CIP or other sources) for biking and walking infrastructure? If yes, how much?

BERRY: There should be ongoing funding in the Capital Improvement program (CIP) that ensures that biking and walking infrastructure is a sustained priority.  Federal and State transportation funding and special grants often require local matching funds from the locality.  The City needs to be ready to leverage local funds to draw down State and Federal funds.  The City also must demonstrate a track record of implementing grant-funded projects in order to win additional grants.  The City has received funding for over a dozen transportation projects that are languishing.  In the last round of grant awards, Richmond missed out on funding because of an inability to execute on previous awards.  City Government fails its citizens when it cannot leverage available grant funding because of an inability to execute.  It does little good to embrace new policies and plans if the City cannot do the basic job of contract management and project implementation.  I will ensure that projects are implemented successfully and that we leverage every available outside dollar.   

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Education

QUESTION 1 - INTER-GOVERNMENT REFORMS/INTENTIONALITY

Richmonders are long tired of stories of inter-government dysfunction and miscommunication between the Mayor, City Council, and School Board when it comes to education. Prime examples include the annual contentious budget season and the discoordination in school construction and operation that led to the failed opportunity with a new MLK Middle School.

What will you do to ensure that your office bolsters inter-governmental efforts to support a world-class education system?

BERRY: The only way to create transformational change in our schools is to unify the community around the priority of public education. That starts with constant communication, open and honest dialog, and frequent joint meetings of all the key players, including City Council, School Board, School administration and Mayor’s Office. There should be quarterly joint meetings and a coordinated and unified effort to reach agreement on key educational priorities, budget objectives, facility plans and community needs. I will communicate constantly, be present in the schools, and work hard to develop trusting relationships with other elected and appointed leaders to create the environment for change. I will appoint a senior position in the Mayor’s Office to be a liaison with RPS and other agencies that impact public education. I will work with RPS to develop a 5-year funding plan to bring predictability and consistency to the annual budget process.

QUESTION 2 - SUSTAINABLE FUNDING

An increased and sustainable stream of education funding will be needed overcome the backlog of facilities needs caused by systemic disinvestment, and to meet the needs of educating students from highly-concentrated poverty. With Richmond’s limited bond capacity, revenue streams, and disadvantage from state funding policies, this will not be an effort that Richmond’s residents can bear alone.

What is your plan to identify the necessary combination of state, private, and local revenues to provide sustainable funding for an education overhaul?

BERRY: Richmond suffers from an unfair State funding formula for education that does not adequately address the needs of communities with high levels of poverty. The City has recently stepped up to build new schools but is now constrained by limited capacity to take on new debt. The public is reticent to accept higher taxes when there is a widespread perception that funds are not used wisely, particularly given the acute dysfunction in the City’s finance functions. While every effort must be made to tap private, philanthropic, state and federal funds, it is not realistic to think that others will bail us out. We must be prepared to solve this problem here at home without outside miracles. Within the first 90 days I will propose a global financial plan that will address school needs as well as city priorities. Working with the Council and School Board, we will reprioritize the 5-Year Capital Improvement Program, develop a borrowing plan that does not put our bond rating in jeopardy, and identify sustainable revenues. As the former Budget Director and Deputy City Manager for Finance, I am certain that I can develop a financial plan that works for the future.

QUESTION 3 - TRANSFORMATIVE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Recent events have shown the immense goodwill of our community for city schools: citizens came out in droves to support funding for Richmond Public Schools. Likewise, Richmond's business community contributes amply to education initiatives every year. With all this good intention, we still lack transformational partnerships between the schools and business, neighborhood, or philanthropic service providers.

What will you do to maximize community support for public education by establishing transformative partnerships which empower individuals towards sustainable change?

BERRY: Success breeds success. Partners are easier to attract when there is an absence of organizational dysfunction, hyper partisanship, and in-fighting. Partners are more likely to come on board when they see leaders that have a shared vision and a commitment to united action. Partners stay on the sidelines when they see political fighting. We will build a City Government that is highly capable and trustworthy. A high-performing organization is essential to tackle the community’s most difficult challenges. I will motivate the private sector to join the effort to strengthen public education in ways not yet seen in RVA. We will inspire confidence in potential partners by getting City Government on the right track, particularly in the area of financial management. Several years ago, at the request of a former superintendent, I helped to lead community and business efforts to recruit teachers for RPS. By joining forces, we can do much more. We will bring resources, talent, and a community-wide effort to embrace the needs of RPS students.

QUESTION 4 - STRATEGIC ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

A combination of tax abatements and incentives used to attract businesses, develop historic properties, and boost tourism have nonetheless diminished the taxable property base in Richmond. Private market trends have shifted considerably in recent years, but our tax policies and economic understanding continue to leave Richmond Public Schools’ funding – which many voters claim is a top investment priority – short.

What is your economic development strategy to provide incentives or negotiate benefits, which recognizes education as a priority?

BERRY: Richmond is poised for much more high quality economic development which will strengthen the tax base and help fund RPS. The City’s population is climbing and investment is growing. RVA is attracting economic activity that will generate new money for schools and other city services. The days when Richmond had to subsidize every deal, incentivize every project, underwrite every event, and routinely forego taxes are behind us. Going forward we should only incentivize economic development activities that otherwise would not occur. RVA’s economic outlook is improving, so it is time to reevaluate subsidies and be much more cautious and intentional about how we use taxpayer money to leverage investments. We will build a highly capable team that will have the skills to negotiate better deals for the community and generate more funds for schools.

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Neighborhoods

QUESTION 1

The City of Richmond has undertaken some successful planning processes in the past decade like the Downtown Master Plan and the Richmond Riverfront Plan. Each of these processes valued civic engagement and put forth results that have been embraced by the public.

As the City’s Master Plan is updated in the coming years, how will you as Mayor ensure that the city has a robust and inclusive civic engagement process?

BERRY: The recent planning processes for the Downtown Plan and the Riverfront Plan were excellent models for engaging citizens in the public policy-making process of City government.  The level of public involvement in these plans was remarkable, reflecting a high level of passion for our city and its future.  An inclusive process that allows genuine participation by all citizens creates broad ownership in the policy outcomes.  Access to information empowers citizens to make a difference in their community.  As Mayor, I will assure that the upcoming master planning process reflects the same robust civic engagement process. I will ensure that there is effective communication throughout the process, solid research that is shared with everyone, opportunities for citizens to share ideas and influence the plan, multiple options for everyone to consider, and a genuine effort to build consensus.

The best way to ensure active participation is to demonstrate that the plan will actually be implemented and that citizens will actually see the results of their work.  A renewed commitment to implementation of the recommendations of the existing Downtown Plan and Riverfront Plan will generate huge interest in the next City Master Plan process.  We need to build a strong organization that can execute on plans, not just write plans. 

QUESTION 2

As the population continues to increase in the City of Richmond, conversations about displacement, housing affordability, and neighborhood change are top of mind for Richmonders. One effort to tackle these challenges was seen through the establishment of the first Office of Community Wealth Building in the nation.

Building on this framework, what tools do you think the City could use to promote more equitable development?

BERRY: Equitable development creates healthy, vibrant communities where residents are able to shape their neighborhoods and create affordable housing choices, good schools, public transportation, job opportunities, safe streets, recreation, and access to healthy food and desired services.  Equitable development requires community engagement in the planning process, especially by those who will be affected by change.  Tools to help achieve equitable development include the City’s Housing Trust Fund, emergency funds for rental assistance, the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust, inclusionary zoning, partnerships with non-profit housing organizations, job training, economic development initiatives, transportation choices, delinquent tax sales of vacant, blighted properties, etc.  The CIP and CDBG funds should be aligned and there should be a clear leader in City Hall for all housing initiatives. The Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building is a groundbreaking initiative to bring a comprehensive array of strategies to build healthy communities and should be strongly supported by the next mayor.  Change is coming as RVA becomes more and more attractive as a place to live.  That change must be matched with a commitment to making sure that existing community residents benefit and participate rather than being displaced or disaffected. 

QUESTION 3

The great neighborhoods that make up the City of Richmond each have different stories, legacies, histories, and tomorrows. People, your constituents, continue to work for a better quality of life for themselves, their families, and their friends.

How will you engage with Richmond neighborhoods to keep your finger on the pulse of our city? What will you ask of the community to help you with your job?

BERRY: I will re-create the Neighborhood Teams process to provide a better opportunity for neighborhoods to have a voice in the planning process and for neighborhoods to have an effective mechanism to address concerns.  The former Teams process empowered neighborhoods to be involved in land use cases and infrastructure investment decisions.  It fostered communication within neighborhoods and between neighborhoods.  It encouraged neighborhood leaders to step up.  I will re-establish some form of this engagement process to better connect the City government organization to the communities it serves.  In addition, I will personally be involved and visible in neighborhoods, working closely with citizens and City Council leaders to make our neighborhoods stronger.  I will work to empower neighborhoods by building a city government team that is a capable partner with them.  I will listen and I will bring the community into the process of governing and serving. There is an incredible amount of talent and passion among the people of our city.  We just need to invite everyone to play a role in building RVA. 

QUESTION 4

You’ve read the many superlatives given to Richmond over the past few years, for our great food and dining communities, our hospitality industry, our river, and our entrepreneurial culture just to name a few. These come from specific neighborhoods and cover the community at large.

What superlative would you like to see for our as a headline? What role did the community play in its own transformation?

BERRY: RVA: Creativity and Community.  Twenty years ago, Richmond faced enormous challenges. Richmond was crime ridden and the city was hemorrhaging population, jobs and investment to the counties. Many Richmonders were pessimistic, even cynical about the city’s future.  But the community never gave up.  VCU believed in the City and invested heavily.  Several major corporations invested in downtown rather than fleeing to the suburbs.  And entrepreneurial pioneers began reclaiming old buildings and turning them into loft apartments.  Organizations like Venture Richmond, GRP and the City began promoting the heck out of the resurgence, and pretty soon the momentum became unstoppable.  Richmond realized that it was in fact a very creative city that was attracting innovative people and businesses.  That creativity was fueling a new vibrancy characterized by world class festivals, a nationally recognized food scene, plus a robust arts scene, music scene and beer industry.   Recently, a collaborative branding effort between the City, universities, several marketing firms, non-profits many other stakeholders created a stronger identity for Richmond as a creative city.  

The RVA identity was an open source experiment that has become a powerful brand.  It is an example of visionary leadership, collaboration, and grassroots involvement and ownership that has helped transform the way that Richmond thinks of itself.  This approach to collaborative leadership will work in the Mayor’s Office, just like it has worked at Venture Richmond, and just like it has worked in the community as a whole.  

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River

QUESTION 1

The James River Park System saw more than 1.3 million visitors in 2015, making it the most-visited attraction in the region. Many believe the park system is underfunded and understaffed.

What is your plan for supporting the James River Park System?

BERRY: The James River is an incredible natural resource, a wilderness in the heart of an urban area. In addition to being an ecological treasure, a water source and an economic driver, the river is an amazing recreational resource that enables citizens to experience the natural world here at home.  It must be protected at all costs, nurtured and made more accessible to the public.  The Park system is straining under the pressures of over a million visitors.  The Park has long been understaffed and underfunded, but has been sustained and improved by a small but incredibly dedicated staff along with committed organizations and dedicated volunteers.  The Park System should be viewed as one of the City’s most important assets, and should be treated as a higher priority than most of the latest and greatest pet projects.  Maintenance of the park should be viewed as a fundamental and essential function of City Government.  I will be a champion for sustained investments in manpower and phased capital improvements.  I will build a strong City organization that gets things done.  City government will become a capable community partner that is able to leverage resources and show results.

QUESTION 2

Richmond's riverfront is experiencing a transformation catalyzed by public and private investment. The City's ability to fund capital projects may be limited in the coming years.

How will you continue implementation the Richmond Riverfront Plan? Which projects are priorities?

BERRY: The Riverfront Plan is an excellent example of an inclusive planning process that galvanized the community to appreciate and invest in the riverfront.  The Plan focuses on creating a cohesive system with good public access and strong connections to the communities on both sides of the river.  

Priorities include projects that improve connections, like the completion of the Potterfield Bridge, the Missing Link, the Manchester Canal Trail, the 13th Street Tunnel, Pipeline, etc.  To ensure that additional open space is protected and available for public use for future generations, a plan to acquire private property should be developed targeting Mayo Island and USP.  The City should evaluate organizational mechanisms that facilitate acquisition, implementation and maintenance of Riverfront Plan components.

QUESTION 3

Water quality in the James River is improving thanks to the City's Long Term Control Plan and the Stormwater Utility.

How will you address the City's Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system and ensure water quality improvement continues?

BERRY: The City’s CSO system is a source of significant pollution during major rain events, particularly in the downtown and Gillies Creek areas.  There have been massive projects to convey CSO flows away from recreational areas of the river and to catch the first flush at the Shockoe Retention basin.  These projects have been funded by State, Federal and local funds and the effort dates back over 40 years.  The efforts are very expensive and depend on all levels of government.  It is important for the City to be able to keep making incremental progress and to execute grant funded projects expeditiously.  It is a long term effort but persistent, steady progress each year will produce results over time.

QUESTION 4

Tributaries of the James River (Reedy Creek, Upham Brook, Gillies Creek) are experiencing water quality improvement thanks to the efforts of City staff in recent years, but these projects do not come without controversy.

How will you ensure neighborhood-scale water quality improvements continue and address community concerns?

BERRY: It is important for localities to do their part in reducing the pollutant load that harms the Chesapeake Bay.  There are many approaches to reducing pollution including stream restoration, rain gardens, retention ponds, reductions in impermeable surfaces and tree planting.  It is important that choices are made based on which approaches provide the best benefits and least negative impacts.  Availability of grants is one of the criteria but should not be the determining criterion.  As with any project that creates neighborhood impacts, there should be considerable public education and input prior to choices being made.  The City must earn the trust of the community when pursuing disruptive and controversial projects.  The City has the burden of demonstrating convincingly that the project is truly beneficial, that other alternatives are less beneficial, and that the stream and associated tree canopy will not be unnecessarily harmed.  In the case of Reedy Creek, that apparently has not happened.  Communication of the facts with integrity and openness is important in every project of this nature.

QUESTION 5

The James River Association is a part of the No Child Left Inside Coalition, working to increase every child's access to environmental education and meaningful outdoor experiences.

What is the Mayor's role in ensuring every child has access to outdoor education experiences?

BERRY: Exposure to new experiences and opportunities is critical in expanding the world of possibilities to young people.  With new experiences and knowledge, children expand their horizons, set new expectations for themselves, and have more reasons to apply themselves in their school work.  Many children are deprived of outdoor recreation experiences and miss the health benefits and joy of being amidst nature.  I saw the impact of these experiences first hand as the director of an urban backpacking program for 13-15 year-old disadvantaged kids.  Many students had never been outside of the city and had never challenged themselves to the rigors of a 40 mile backpacking trip. The accomplishment and adventure was life changing.  Today, I care for a cabin on the Appalachian Trail as a volunteer of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.  As mayor, I would love to enable many Richmond kids to experience the Shenandoah National, the trail, and this particular cabin.  As mayor, I would encourage and support these kinds of opportunities and programs offered by City Parks Department and by RVA non-profits.

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Transit

QUESTION 1

State and federal plans are in the works to make Richmond a stop on a proposed higher speed rail route along the eastern seaboard.

Do you support a higher speed rail connection between Richmond and the Northeast Corridor?

BERRY: Yes.  Higher speed rail connecting RVA to the Northeast corridor would be a game-changer for Richmond.  Improved connections to the nation’s capital, the high tech economy of northern Virginia, and the Northeast corridor would provide a significant economic boost to our region.   The I-95 corridor is congested and travel times to Washington are often unreliable and inconvenient.  We’ve reached the limits of further widening of the interstate.  In addition, there are environmental consequences of auto congestion and auto dependency.  Population growth in the corridor is leading to an increased demand for safe and reliable alternatives to driving.  Unfortunately, existing rail service is unreliable as well, with trip times varying based on conflicts with freight traffic, breakdowns, and congestion due to bottlenecks.  Higher speed rail would add tracks that would dramatically improve reliability, which is even more important than increasing speed.

QUESTION 2

The station options being proposed for a higher speed rail connection in Richmond are Main Street Station, a Broad Street Station, and a Boulevard Station.

Which Richmond station option do you think offers the greatest opportunity for economic development and connectivity?

BERRY: I generally view downtown to downtown service as the ideal model.  The city’s largest employment base, and its most important economic engine, is the downtown central business district.  As downtown’s chief advocate for the past 18 years, I have seen the benefits of working for a stronger, more vibrant downtown.  The recent Main Street Station renovation as a multi-modal center, coupled with the major renovation to the train shed now underway, plus the BRT route, make the station an ideal location for RVA’s transportation hub.  This option also preserves the opportunity for an improved Staples Mill Station, which is important to our regional neighbor, Henrico.  It is possible that studies now underway may determine that this alternative is not realistic given the improvements that would need to be made to the infrastructure from Acca Yard to downtown.  If that turns out to be the case, I would support the Boulevard option as a centrally located station that could anchor the future development of Richmond’s “mid-town”.

QUESTION 3

The Richmond Regional Transit Vision Plan will be complete in the fall of 2016. This project, which is being undertaken by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation in partnership with the jurisdictions of Metro Richmond, will offer the layout of a regional public transit network, but one premised on regional cooperation.

What are the barriers to regional cooperation from your perspective, and how do you intend to foster more collaboration in order to bring this much-needed plan to fruition?

BERRY: As a former city official and county administrator, I understand the perspectives of all the players.  Regional cooperation depends on mutual trust, respect and effective working relationships.  These relationships are built over time by working together and communicating constantly.  Professional respect of each jurisdiction’s organizational capacity is important, as is avoidance of overly partisan politics.  Both the current Hanover and Chesterfield County Administrators used to serve on my staff.  We know each other well and have the utmost respect for each other.  In addition, the Henrico Manager served as an intern in the Richmond Budget Office.  Between those leaders, plus the City’s CAO, and all of the elected officials, some of which will be new, this is a perfect time to push the reset button and get to work on regional issues, starting with transportation

QUESTION 4

The Broad Street BRT route will be a first of its kind in our region.

What do you think is the next key corridor to focus on expanding our BRT system? Why?

BERRY: The logical next step is to extent the Broad Street BRT corridor further west to employment centers and retail centers in Henrico.  I believe breakthroughs in regional cooperation are possible with the next mayor, and I plan to engage Chesterfield in dialog regarding transit.  After expanding west on Broad Street, the next priority is probably the Rt. 60 Midlothian corridor, as it would have the highest potential to connect citizens to jobs, since there are over 40,000 jobs in this corridor not currently accessible by GRTC patrons.

QUESTION 5

The most successful transit networks in the country have a dedicated revenue stream, and our lack of dedicated funding for public transportation has been cited as the number one challenge to providing transit for the region.

Do you support a dedicated source of funding for transit? If so, what funding source would you prefer? If not, why not?

BERRY: Regional transit is one of the most important opportunities to connect underemployed city residents with job opportunities in the counties.  Currently, less than 30% of jobs metro-wide are accessible to residents living in transit served neighborhoods.  And 18% of city residents don’t have a car.  High quality regional transit is a key component of the City’s anti-poverty strategy, and it is an expectation for choice riders as well, as more and more citizens want options beyond the private automobile.  One approach taken by other regions in the country is to combine state and federal funding with a regional dedicated funding source, such as a portion of the sales tax or the gas tax.  A regional transportation funding mechanism would allocate funding to many regional transportation projects, including roads, bridges as well as transit.

QUESTION 6

The Richmond Transit Network Plan (RTNP), which will be complete in January 2017 and is being undertaken by the City in consultation with Jarrett Walker + Associates, is an incredibly unique opportunity to enhance the bus lines for which the City pays, particularly in coordination with the BRT.

How will you personally play a role in the creation and implementation of this plan, regardless of the outcome of this election?

BERRY: The Richmond Transit Network Plan is an excellent planning process to evaluate alternative route structures and trade-offs in the context of implementing BRT.  The results could provide a dramatic transformation of the GRTC system.  Connectivity to BRT will be an important priority for the revised network.  Community preferences for speed vs. coverage, and willingness to walk further to get more frequent service will be evaluated.  It is important that citizens have a lot of input in rebuilding a system of public transit that impacts so many people on a daily basis.  Just like the master planning process, civic engagement is the key to getting buy-in for new approaches.  My role is to encourage broad based civic engagement, find resources for implementation, ensure that the very best options are put on the table, and be a passionate advocate and consensus builder.  The City government must become a strong, capable partner with the ability and determination to get plans implemented.

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