CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS) — Calling it a “monumental” project, Charleston’s mayor lauded planned improvements that will transform a four-mile stretch of Kanawha Boulevard from Magic Island to the 35th Street Bridge and include a section of Greenbrier Street.
Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said at a news conference on Monday, where she was joined by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the enhancements will make the city more walkable and more friendly to bicyclists, things that cities in the nation that are thriving have achieved.
According to a letter from Manchin to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the $1.75 million “Capital Connector Project” would include expanding sidewalks, crosswalks and create dedicated bike lanes and other pedestrian friendly projects along nearly four miles of the Kanawha Boulevard.
The project would also make upgrades to the Greenbrier Street area adjacent to the Capitol Complex. The feasibility of a surface streetcar along Kanawha Boulevard would also be explored, the letter said.
“This is something we’ve thinking about and dreaming about for so long,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the project is going to help with bicycle safety and passenger safety and “it’s going to put us on a road diet.” She said those traveling to work in the city will have a safer place to play.
The mayor said for so long, people have talked about the need for Charleston to develop its water front. She said the nearly $2 million grant will allow the city to do that planning. Goodwin said it will be good for the city’s businesses.
Manchin also lauded the project.
“This is transforming for our city,” Manchin said. “It’s transforming for our state.”
Manchin said when visitors come to Charleston, they will arrive at a more accessible city they can enjoy and make them want to come downtown.
“This is something that is going to be special and make Charleston a gateway city,” Manchin said.
Capito said the changes planned for Greenbrier Street will be beneficial because that area is the first thing people who fly into Charleston see when they are headed toward the beautiful capitol.
Bike lanes that will be added on the South Side and 35th Street bridges also will be great additions to the capital city, she said.
“Investments into our roads, bridges and core infrastructure can help modernize our cities, spur economic development, and make travel far more efficient and safer,” Capito said in a news release. “Projects like this were top of mind as I helped craft the bipartisan infrastructure package, and will continue to be a primary focus through my work as Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.”
According to a news release from the city, the Capital Connector Project will "enhance safety, pedestrian and bicyclist accessibility, transit access, transportation efficiency and streetscaping" along Kanawha Boulevard from Magic Island to the 35th Street Bridge. It would also upgrade Greenbrier Street from Kanawha Boulevard to Washington Street. The project also includes improved "walkability and bike-ability" for the Southside Bridge and 35th Street Bridge.