RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — More than two months after work on Broad Street in downtown Richmond began, the multi-million-dollar paving, milling and painting project is entering its final phase, with the painting of red bus-only lanes kicking off on Tuesday.
The Broad Street Repaving Project began on Monday, April 11, and was set to conclude on Tuesday, June 21. While the physical paving work wrapped ahead of schedule, the bus-only lane painting is not scheduled to finish until the end of August, weather permitting.
“Broad Street didn’t get in the condition that it’s in overnight, and with any construction project that you do, it’s going to be a little bit of a deconstruction phase that people have to go through,” City of Richmond Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Bobby Vincent told 8News back in April. “We’re trying to do our best to put our best foot forward to lighten that burden on our businesses and our homeowners along that stretch of road.”
Road work happened in five phases, beginning with the section between 3rd Street and Belvidere Street, and ending with the section between Hamilton Street and Staples Mill Road. The red lane painting is happening in eight sequences, according to DPW, starting with 3rd to Belvedere westbound, and ending with Belvedere to 3rd eastbound.
“It’ll definitely get their attention,” longtime resident Dave Murray said of the newly painted bus-only lanes. “I hope it does something, I do. I mean, it won’t stop the fact that people are making U-turns on no left turn and breezing down the bus lane like it doesn’t matter. I mean, we have people parking in the bike lanes on 1st street.”
According to a release from DPW, this phase of the project will install red-colored marking in the dedicated GRTC Pulse Bus-Only lanes from Interstate 195 to 1st Street. The $2 million project was funded through a Department of Rail and Public Transit grant, intended to improve driver and pedestrian awareness of the dedicated bus-only lanes, reduce unauthorized use of the lanes and improve bus operations.
The GRTC Pulse runs 14 buses along the Broad Street corridor, almost 100 times daily, according to DPW.
“How to you convey that? I guess the red, maybe, that’s why they thought that would be a good idea because it’s in your face,” Murray said. “Pedestrian safety, bicycle safety and vehicular safety in Richmond, really, should be a little more seriously taken.”
Government data shows that in 2019, there were 13 pedestrian-involved crashes on the stretch of Broad Street being tackled in this repaving project; five in 2020; and eight in 2021. 8News reached out for information on crashes involving GRTC buses during those years but has not yet received a response.
“You’re running the risk of either running into a bus or car or a pedestrian or a mom with her baby,” Murray said. “It’s a city of one-way streets and no left turns, yet people do it.