An open forum hosted by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transport helped assuage the fears local activists and community members. In its current proposal, the DRPT and the Federal Railroad Administration are considering creating two stations in Richmond for its rail from Richmond to D.C., one at Main Street Station in Shockoe Bottom and another around Broad and Boulevard in Scott’s Addition.
Whenever construction is talked about in Shockoe, local activists are concerned about the effect it could have on historical sites, such as the site of Gabriel Prosser’s execution and the Lumpkin’s Jail site. Indeed, many of the speakers expressed a preference for the Broad/Boulevard location over that of Main Street Station.
A longtime advocate for the Shockoe Memorial Park and a representative for the Defenders of Freedom, Justice and Equality, Ana Edwards spoke on the issue of building in an area so rich with history.
“There is consideration that there’s been a longstanding campaign for Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park,” Edwards said of DRPT’s efforts. “Our concern when we heard there was going to be a high speed rail coming into the city and into Shockoe was the impact it would have on what we wanted to see.”
The current two station proposal would see the area of expansion into burial grounds minimized, but would create the need for parking decks, another issue for some speakers such as Richmond resident Luca.
“I spoke with Claire during the open house and she explained to me that one of the changes would be a three story parking garage on a lot that’s slated for the proposed memorial park,” said Luca. “I guess I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact there’s all these folks here advocating for this park and a parking garage is even being considered.”
Former VCU president Eugene Trani joined those advocating for the Scott’s Addition location as the sole station, but kept his reasoning more economic.
“I’m 77 years-old so I’m not going to be here to see what happens, but I think there should be one station in the Richmond metropolitan area and it should be on Boulevard,” Trani said. “The area already has plenty of space and entertainment, and I believe just announcing the station would help the area develop faster.”
Though they did not speak during the forum, yielding the floor in its entirety to members of the public, a representative for DRPT did say they are planning to avoid all historical and archaeological sites, of which Shockoe has many.
Those unable to make it to the forum still have the option to provide comment by November 8th via an electronic form. http://www.dc2rvarail.com/contact-us