CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Major improvements are being planned to two of the most heavily trafficked roads in Charleston thanks to a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin stood beside U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (D-W.Va.) Monday morning at Haddad Riverfront Park to announce the city being awarded a $1.75 million RAISE (Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure for Sustainability and Equity) Grant for the planning of the infrastructure project.

According to the city, the grant will be used for the Charleston Capital Connector Project to transform a 3.5-mile stretch Kanawha Boulevard corridor along the riverfront, and better connect Greenbrier Street, to the community.

The Capital Connector Project would enhance safety, pedestrian and bicyclist accessibility, transit access, transportation efficiency and streetscaping along Kanawha Boulevard from Magic Island to the 35th Street Bridge, the city stated. Goodwin said the sidewalks will be enhanced and extended on the boulevard stretch and will include trees lining the center of the roadway.

The project also includes improved walkability and bike-ability for the Southside Bridge and 35th Street Bridge, a release said.

“This is an absolutely monumental project, a transformative project for Charleston and the Kanawha Boulevard area,” Goodwin told MetroNews.

It would also upgrade Greenbrier Street from Kanawha Boulevard to Washington Street. Greenbrier Street has access to Yeager Airport and the state Capitol, something Goodwin said is important to work on for many reasons.

“We have so many visitors, so many travelers coming in to see the state Capitol and Capitol grounds. It’s going to make it a much safer venue for folks who are visiting and for folks who are working, as well,” the mayor said.

Charleston received strong support for the RAISE Grant application from Manchin and Capito, along with Governor Jim Justice and the state DOT. In July 2021, she wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg advocating for the city’s application for this particular grant funding, her office said.

“Completing the Charleston Capital Connector project is critical to the upgrade and redesign of Kanawha Boulevard, and it’s critical to joining the West Side, downtown, and East End together. But, before we get to that point, there are planning, designing, engineering, and permitting needs that have to be met first. That’s exactly what this $1.75 million grant is for,” Senator Capito said in a release.

“Completing this project means we are keeping pedestrians safer, increasing accessibility for bikers, improving streetscapes, and cutting down on traffic congestion. I was proud to play a role in making today possible, and I’m even more excited to see this project get started right here in our capital city.”

Manchin said of the announcement, “Investing in infrastructure projects across West Virginia will have a monumental impact on our communities and local economies. For months, I have been advocating for the Charleston Capital Connector Project, which will upgrade and improve the Kanawha Boulevard corridor and Greenbrier Street gateway.

“In October, I called Department of Transportation Secretary Buttigieg and urged him to make this project a reality, and I’m pleased DOT heeded my request to improve our capital city. As we work to put the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill into action, I will continue to advocate for infrastructure projects across the Mountain State.”

Goodwin said she is confident her administration will be able to make use of new resources in the newly passed, U.S. Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, to secure the funding needed to construct and put the project plans and specs into action. She estimated totals to construct and build the project would be close to $15 million.

“It should be easy to get from the West Side to the East End, to Kanawha City, to South Hills, and to North Charleston and right now it’s not. But this Charleston Capital Connector Project will make that happen,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said Secretary Buttigieg called her in recent weeks to congratulate Charleston on receiving the grant.