LAWRENCE WILLIAMS

Lawrence WilliamsCandidates 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 Lawrence Williams’ 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?

LAWRENCE WILLIAMS: I have been advocating green way development since the 2004 elections and would like to think my advocacy to make Richmond the most livable city in America has finally paid off. 12 years have past and the creation of bike ways, restored parks and nature trails have become a popular acceptable topic for political discussion. 
I have two bikes sitting in my living room as modern decoration, however I do use them to travel downtown from Church Hill. Too hot now however. When neighbors see me ride they feel more committed to ride.

As Mayor, I would work closely with existing groups like yours to establish green way right of ways that would link residential communities to public amenities and downtown. Presently I am a founding board member with GroundworkRVA a successful organization with  a proven track record of working with inner city youth, neighborhood associations and city agencies. Like many organizations I would support, GroundworkRVA promotes the relationship between our next generation of citizens and Richmond's environmental infrastructure. 

A city  wide master plan and comprehensive rezoning is due for revision in the coming years. As mayor and trained architect, naturally this coordination of land uses will be important to me. My goal is to make Richmond the Most Livable City in America and that is my top priority. Traffic and bike lane safety with public awareness campaigns would be appropriate.

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?

WILLIAMS: Streets are more than infrastructure. Streets are living arteries. To that end as mayor I would focus on two and three dimensional zoning approaches that create strong corridors and sense of place. Corridors are community statements. Corridors worth investing in must have rhythm and massing of adjacent structures arranged to create safe pedestrian first communities. I will encourage this in new planned communities around new schools and commit my planning department to reviewing existing neighborhoods. Safe biking will not have a stronger advocate than Lawrence Williams as your Mayor.

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?

WILLIAMS: I will support continued City engineering studies. I will work with community organizations and through my newly established International Center for Social Research and Development, explore what other cities around the world are doing to create safe streets for both traffic and pedestrians. I will continue to support the Vision Zero Resolution (No.2016-R011). 

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?

WILLIAMS: On my website I illustrate a plan for development of North Shockoe Bottom. Presently I am promoting a greenway link from Eastview Lane Park to Oliver Hill Way and Hospital Streets through an existing City easement. I am supporting the Reedy Creek upgrades and George Wythe, Crooked Creek Greenway development. I have personally championed a new proposed green way link from Whitcomb Court to Highland Park. This mayoral candidate is excited about working with community leaders to improve our natural and biking assets. Let's get started.

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?

WILLIAMS: "Yes".__Upon review of future budgets $500,000 to $1,000,000 would seem appropriate. Additional bike trails can be leveraged through good urban and regional planning and included in the designated funding for other private sector funding using Special Use and Plan of Development guidelines for all projects involving major land use changes. I look forward to monitoring the possibilities with your organization.

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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?

WILLIAMS: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help". We have heard these words too many times in the past. Governments or their structure alone does not insure success. A system that recognizes and enhances the values of the population served will lead us to a world-class education system. Too long our education system has been a tale of two cities. I submit that RRHA is the fourth leg supporting the table on which a reformed Richmond government must be written.  In the 60's new schools were built and then surrounded by segregated housing. That has proven to be a mistake. As mayor, I will listen to Citizen values and begin to reintegrate our communities with two new branded middle school academies surrounded by new mixed income development with amenities that attract middle income families back to the City. If 1/3 of the students are regional candidates for admission and they are replaced equally in the surrounding counties by Richmond City students, a mayor should take on the challenge. We have to face what people want if a new governmental system, supporting a world-class education system is to be achieved. "Save our Schools" is code for "We want to reintegrate our schools and be a part of its success. A Mayor must include cooperation also with our regional education partners and the State Legislature as well. Having mayor facilitated, community forums that are actually negotiations among citizens and one on one relationship building staff encounters is the job for a mayor that has actual community planning experience. 

Again Citizen based strategic planning committees will be the oil that forces the four pillars of our City to work together. I had this experience when I was on the nine member board of the Richmond Tomorrow Strategic Planning and Budget Committee, appointed by Council during the Walter Kenny and Robert Bobb administration. During those years Citizens with both management and business/community ties held the City together successfully. Hayes Watkins CEO of CSX was a good southern gentleman and chairman of the board.  I would like to share my collaborative skills learned during those years and beyond with the citizens of Richmond. Ultimately, the Mayor has to be a facilitator and salesman of community visions with unquestioned integrity and able to communicate collaborative concepts effectively to staff and community.  I would again like to establish Williams Blue Ribbon Citizen  Review and Oversight Committees.

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?

WILLIAMS: As mayor, in the first 100 days of my administration with the political support from Citizen Blue Ribbon Committees, I will determine the best marketing and political  approaches for improved funding for our schools. With citizen committee experts in the fields of education, finance, legislative and public relations, I will approach the Council, School Board and RRHA as well as nonprofits and the business community to offer buy-in/insight in our efforts to find the right evolving model for Richmond Public Schools financing.

These approaches will address of course more appropriate funding formulas from the State. New tax zone development in new promoted business districts will be ordinance driven with designated funding to schools. Nonprofit assistance within targeted schools to reduce student teacher rations to 1 per 15 will help to justify to the State and Federal governments that additional funding would be appropriate. Energy efficiency contracts to reduce operating cost and a Mayor that can cut construction cost by 20% will also go a long way toward finding additional dollars to go in the classroom.

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?

WILLIAMS: I would work with The Richmond Education Association and the media more to highlight not only positive student role models but also more emphasis from a marketing perspective on our most successful seasoned teachers. Marketing would show how these teachers were contracted to work with entry level teachers for three years as a way to showcase the quality of education in Richmond. Develop more high school internship opportunities. I have enjoyed having such students work year-round in my office. I later watched them grow into fine adults and marry their childhood sweethearts. Large corporations should have programs through Richmond public Schools that promote educational and career advancement among their loading dock workers. Workforce development for post graduate teens is critical and can be supported by the business community tailored to what they need. A good Mayor can gain the trust and encourage the marginalized.

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?

WILLIAMS: I would be an experienced champion in economic development. Large dezinated school tax business tax zones are crucial and I would promote such development. See website: www.lawrencewilliamsarchitect.com to view such proposals for economic growth. Also as your mayor I will recognize that the tax parcels around a school also determine to an even greater proportional degree the funding available and success of schools. Therefore, as a Mayor from such neighborhoods, I would be hard wired to promote measurable change, such as the new community development and reducing concentration(s) of poverty, now occurring in Church Hill. All potential economic corners of our City must be brought up together. I do not approve of increasing the tax rate on residential properties or the elderly. I do feel the State and large businesses over 100 employees should contribute more to Richmond Public 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?

WILLIAMS: I was asked by Planning Commission member, Melvin Law to serve on the Downtown Master Plan steering committee and enjoyed working with Rachel Flinn, the planning director at that time. I was impressed with the town hall meetings. What must impressed me was the commitment City Council made to fund the process with national experts at the helm.

Our City had difficulty with the Shockoe Bottom master planning options because it did not include funding for adequate independent professionals facilitating citizen in put like the Downtown Master Plan. When additional financial analysis was requested there was no funding in place for design development floor plans leading to hard cost. The project halted. I fear the same will occur with North Boulevard proposals added to the Downtown and Uptown ( North Blvd) Master planing efforts. That is why I prepared a land use plan as part of my campaign platform with detailed land use and stadium plans to save the City years of delay and wasted planning studies costing hundreds of thousands of city payer tax dollars. 

Having, full week, open office citizen input was,  I found, the most effective way to get local professionals and citizens to have detailed input.. Also under my administration a new planning office will have an open door policy with project display corridors on the City Hall 5th floor, 1st floor lobby and the council chamber rear wall and 2nd floor lobby walls.

As mayor I will establish what I would call "The Mayor Williams Blue Ribbon Steering Committee" of individuals familiar with Richmond, to make certain that Council first allocates predevelopment money to major project master plans development  first to insure developers entering into contracts with city are singing from the same hymn book. If City Council wants good design and detailed answers they must allocate funds for decent economic and inhouse predesign. An example of this is the North Boulevard proposal presented on my website that illustrates no cost to tax payers, paper right of ways in place offered as a community service. This allows citizens to have a framework to tell developers what they want on the designated right of ways and block faces. Selected  big box developers do not have adequate time to prepare a well thought through land use plan in 30 days.  In reviewing Rocketts Landing, Stone Brewing  or North Boulevard proposals, such additions to the Master plan and related zoning ordinances require initial citizen, local and national planning firm input. As Mayor I will champion this approach.

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?

WILLIAMS: As an Afro American Architect, still living in Church Hill, I am well aware of the effects of gentrifications and the availability of decent affordable housing. As stated in my 10 point revitalization platform I will support The Office of Community Wealth Building and expand it to include, The International Social Research and Development Center. The Center (ICSRD) would be dedicated to researching successful programs around the world and determining how they could be combined with existing and new service providers to serve citizens. The center would be a store-house for such research with distribution throughout our region. Regional funding may prove appropriate.

I support initiatives occurring in Richmond's East End that reduce the concentration of poverty. I support land trust that can be maintained to insure long term affordable and sustainable neighborhoods. As a Mayor /Architect, I will have special concerns that neighborhood density street-face and facade rhythm must be maintained to insure strong sense of place for many years and not be some passing fashion. This is a major problem with the existing public housing stock. What would Richmond be like if more public housing streets were designed with the street-face setback and single family brick homes having 30ft wide massing similar to the homes along West Franklin or Chimborazo Blvd. with great parks and schools. That would have been a fabric we could have worked with today. Richmond is masonry strong. Together I know this town is small enough that we can correct the mistakes of the past. With green ways, a strong housing stock and nearby job opportunities, I am confident, we can make Richmond the most livable city in America.

Please review the role of the International Center for Social Research and development as discussed in my 10 Point Revitalization Platform. Visit: www.lawrencewilliamsarchitect.com.

Tools to strengthen our communities include: RRHA, Community Development Nonprofit Organizations, (local and national),Community Center Schools,(RPS), Federal and State Grants,and most importantly, Civic Association growth and support through such organizations as Storefront for Community Design, GroundworkRVA and the  other nonprofits that serve Richmond. The private sector when orchestrated properly, through good zoning and community leadership has the greatest impact. As a candidate for Mayor, I feel I have the best community proven, commitment and skill set to implement lasting change in under served communities and move the all our City forward..

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?

WILLIAMS: Past Mayors were strong hands on administrators, others were more ceremonial, not close to daily life in average communities. The Mayor Williams Blue Ribbon Citizens Strategic Planning and Budget Committee would be used to evaluate citizen and budget matters. Outlined in my 10 Point Revitalization Platform are several opportunities for citizens to participate with mayor lead initiatives. Again the four community development pillars of Mayor, Council, School Board and RRHA will be represented in community dialogue to insure seamless transparent progress orchestrated or conducted by a Mayor/Architect trained to facilitate meetings that lead to innovative solutions. I look forward to participating in neighborhood civic association sponsored events. As sincerely as I can state this, at this point in our history Richmond needs a humble, knowledgeable, minority, small business owner, Architect as it's Mayor to move this city forward.

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?

WILLIAMS: Richmond: Righteous History,Righteous People 
Lawrence Ellis Williams'2016

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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?

WILLIAMS: I have had the pleasure to work with Nathen Burrell as a fellow founding board member of GroundworkRVA . Together we have focused on building the organization as an environmental advocacy organization. We encourage students to be environmental stewards . As Mayor I am fully committed to recognizing the River as our Central park and maintaining its environmental quality for future generations.
I was amazed at how few City of Richmond employees maintain the River. I thank the many volunteers, however Nathan and his volunteers are over worked. To help, I will work to find more National, State and private sector funding to service and promote The James River Park System and related watersheds. New development along the River's edge will be monitored closely by this mayor. I would also like to see stronger relationships with Richmond Public Schools and local Colleges promoting and education future environmental stewards.

I have been on the steering committee for the Downtown Master Plan appointed by Melvin Law of the Planning commission I have reviewed the proposed amendment to it: The James River Park Master Plan.

I will work closely with the Council to review proposed resolutions and ordinances that have been vetted by appropriate stake holders and citizen advisory boards established by the Mayor's Office. Please review my web site to review my 10 point Revitalization Platform Plans to get a full perspective on Richmond's future and to determine how the James River Park System will compliment Richmond's central core.

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?

WILLIAMS: First and foremost, I feel that environmentally appropriate, river edge design is important to the park system and adjacent development. To think we can design the rivers edge is at best hopeful. The river was here long before and will be here long after. Our goal is to respect and allow the river to design itself in a self-sustaining cost effective manner. Natural edges vs. crumbling concrete, algae, edges requiring greater long term maintenance may not be appropriate. As Mayor I pledge to support the James River Park System and to participate in the "Value Engineering" of its' elements. Ultimately, the Mayor has to be a salesman for riverfront growth. Our challenge, as I see it, is to design for an adequate population around it to generate more than enough tax revenue to maintain this regional amenity. New York's Central Park 2,800 ft. by 13,500 ft. = 37,800,000 square feet approximately has a high enough density around it to animate that amenity. The James River Park system from Lee Bridge to Rocketts Landing is 2,500 ft. x11,000 ft. = 27,500,000 square feet approximately. A proportionate, similar level of population density is required to effectively utilize such large amounts of new open spaced proposed by the James River Park System. As Mayor I will fight to maintain, vistas, pedestrian access, new building setbacks and explore new environmental options. 

I will review priority projects with vested parties as part of my Williams Blue Ribbon Citizen Advisory Boards of experts, volunteers, Council and the James River Park System staff to use numeric objective, evaluation of first priority and highest return on investment projects. As Mayor, I do like that the south bank railroad yard will be filled with new topsoil and replanted in a self-sustaining original river bank pasture environmental manner. I too will  keep in mind that the River, a living place/thing, and the citizens ultimately will design the River Park System.

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?

WILLIAMS: I had the pleasure of working with Howell Todd a planning Director in the 1980's in the early days of planning the River Front Canal system. I walked in his home and on his dining room table was a model of the river front canal. It took a salesman to get it done. Can you imagine selling this concept to Council today? The CSO system was combined with this project and the flood wall to justify and pay for the CSO system downtown. 

As Mayor and trained architect, I will also try to leverage other assets and projects as we obtain Federal and state grants. To illustrate my long term past commitments to such issues, I have long promoted retention lakes in Shockoe Valley North as a part of the Shockoe Valley/ Flood Plane/ water shed. Please visit: http://www.lawrencewilliamsarchitect.com/#!SHOCKOEVALLEMASTERPLAN.jpg/zoom/c1zy6/image217j

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?

WILLIAMS: Domestic piped water, waste water, and storm water management are basic services that must be at the highest levels of efficient delivery, health and environmental quality. As Mayor, I pledge to uphold the levels of quality now achieved by the City of Richmond. With that being said, I would like to begin with improved storm water, curb and gutter upgrades on the south side of the river in the 8th and 9th Council districts.

Improvements to watersheds in Shockoe Valley North and Reedy Creek tributaries are also of equal concern. And in summary I would like to improve youth environmental awareness, presently conducted by such organizations as GroundworkRVA. 

As Mayor I pledge to work with neighborhood associations to solve community domestic water, storm water, curb and gutter sidewalk and utility issues. As mayor, I will begin testing domestic water especially in what I call, "end of line communities", and how older lines may impact neighborhood mental health. Again,watersheds should become neighborhood amenities, not health concerns.

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?

WILLIAMS: As a graduate from Richmond Public Schools, I strongly feel this mayoral candidate will inspire our city youth to participate in environmental programs. Field trips to Maymont and the James River are important. I was 30 years old before I explored the James Rivers shores, here in the City. In speaking with Richmond's teachers, they stress that teaching to the Sols should be combined with more field trips. Destination sites should in turn meet SOL step standards. As Mayor I will work closely with educators and advisory boards to make all our environmental asserts, "Community Education Friendly".

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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?

WILLIAMS: I do support higher speed rail transit along the Northeast corridor. This right of way must however be wide enough to accommodate growth an unforeseen technology, especially in Historic Shockoe Bottom. In discussions with citizens, one interesting point came out. They said, "The rail service between D.C. and Richmond would also allow Northern workers to live in Richmond and work in Northern Virginia." Phasing of rail sections between Fredricksburg and Richmond and related cost will require regional cooperation and a mayor's support. 

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?

WILLIAMS: The North Boulevard station between the tracks and the Greyhound Bus station, option, in my opinion is the most cost effective rail station location. Please visit: http://www.lawrencewilliamsarchitect.com/#!NORTHBOULEVARDAERIALMAXUSE/zoom/c1zy6/dataItem-iqptgd2f  

The topography and infrastructure entanglements at Main Street Station and the ability for a rail station to grow over time, eliminates Shockoe Bottom as the primary rail station for Richmond. Presently trains cannot make right turns when going to the cardinal points. Often trains have to travel to Fulton Yard to wait for rail traffic to pass before proceeding north, south east or west. The flat land of North Boulevard can accommodate the future regional and local mass transit rail of the future. I am also concerned additional tracks adjacent to historical burial grounds and the train shed will impact planning for the Shockoe Plaza development. As Mayor, my goal would be to promote the North Boulevard proposal because of its flexibility and long term economic impact. Upon additional review from citizens the North Boulevard rail station will be a part of my 10 point election platform. The above mentioned study of North Boulevard is presented as a public service and to illustrate practical real world visionary leadership without tax payers paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in studies. That money could be going to our schools. The cost of elections should be going to schools. Yes Main Street station is valuable as a local loop mass transit rail station but not as a regional future high or faster speed rail hub. The western lines are cheaper to build and connect. That being said I would as Mayor, request study of local metro rail line connecting VCU medical campus to North Boulevard. A phase two line between North Boulevard and Carytown. Then a phase three mass transit metro rail loop from Cary to VCU and Main Street Station along the Expressways. Each leg, with two tracks and two passing trains going in opposite directions would reverse direction at Main Street Station to minimize track width right of ways and  structure coordination.   Conclusion: Main Street Station is a local Mass Transit Metro Rail Hub. North Boulevard would be a regional Hub. Historic Shockoe Bottom and a natural Shockoe Bottom North can remain untouched by parking and rail growth. The Historic Train Shed should remain without air conditioning to be environmentally efficient. We learned this energy lesson at Sixth Street Mall. The train shed would  serve as an all-weather back up space to the new Lumpkins Jail / Shockoe Plaza proposals. A Food Hall/ Assembly Hall  with present  Shockoe Chiefs, each with competing vendor spaces,  would be appropriate in the existing open air shed with hinged full glass walls sloped and facing North and seen from I-95.

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?

WILLIAMS: I would work closer with the regional planning commission from a promotional perspective. The previously mentioned Mayors Blue Ribbon Citizen Regional Advisory Board would also be made up of citizens outside of the City to foster goodwill, define and to work through obstacles with experts.  The State Legislature has many regional cooperation laws in place, however, the local City Council and County Supervisors have stalled progress. The lack of knowledgeable salesmanship has been lacking. 

With the help of Community Volunteers across jurisdictional boundaries, I feel I have the best skill set and salesmanship to achieve mass transit progress with a clear vision.

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?

WILLIAMS: First, I would like to see the Richmond Pulse Line (RED LINE) become a BRT linear transfer system with other bus routes connecting to it along Broad Street. Second, I would like to see a Richmond Rapids Line (BLUE LINE) from Parham Road along Chamberlayne  Ave. across the James River at The Lee Bridge and Continue West to Midlothian Turnpike as a linear BRT Transfer Station. Finally, a metro loop light rail circling the inner city core along existing rail lines and expressways, connecting Carytown to Main Street Station, Carytown to North Boulevard and North Boulevard to the VCU Medical Campus. 

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?

WILLIAMS: I support a dedicated funding source for transit. However, it is a regional issue when you consider Chesterfield is already a vested stock holder in the success or failure of the existing bus system. Especially if the new transit system competes with it. Inner City Transit on the above three phases is in the best interest of local county commuters just as the Downtown Expressway proved to be. The three phases are awaiting a Regional Study Initiative lead by regional administrators that should be freed by their Council or Supervisors to do so. This, I am certain is a desire of all citizens.

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?

WILLIAMS: I feel most Citizens have come to know me as a visionary and would like such input from a 21st century mayor. During my "Mayorship" and beyond, I hope I have illustrated my willingness to fast track citizen initiatives. We have waited long enough.

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