LYNCHBURG, Va. – Two separate meetings had a very similar theme on Thursday night.
Leaders of the Lynchburg Downtown Renewal Project invited the community to come out to hear about the next phase of the project.
Currently, the project is in phase three, which is expected to be completed in July 2023.
Once phase three is completed, phase four will begin, and that is expected to be completed in about two years.
Each phase of the project focuses on two factors: what’s underground and above-ground. The first part of the phase is to replace 100-year-old water pipelines and sewer lines with upgraded infrastructure.
Then the focus will shift to adding in new brick sidewalks, historically-designed streetlights, new trees and plantings, and redesigned parking and loading zone areas.
Project Manager Jim Talian said the goal is to get everything they want in one sweep.
“We don’t want to come down here and do the water lines Then three years later come back and do the sewer and four years later come back and do the sidewalks. We want to get it all over with at once so that people are only disrupted one time,” Talian said.
This one sweep still has a lot of work to be done.
“There are 50 blocks that we need to do. There are 13 that are done right now, five more under construction, five in phase four. So there are a few more phases down the road,” Talian said.
Phase four will primarily focus on Main St between 12th St. and the Lynchburg Expressway. Talian mentioned how this section is really the gateway to the downtown area, so it’s even more important to make it look nice.
“You only get one chance to make a good first impression and we’re hoping that this phase will be a good step towards that,” Talian said.
Blocks away, the Lynchburg Parks and Recreation Department was meeting to explain their newest 10-year plan.
Director Jennifer Jones said a big part of the plan is to focus on park deserts in the city. These are areas where there is not a park or trail within walking distance of a residential part of the city.
“Parks are super important. Living within a ten-minute walk especially because we know that if you live within a ten-minute walk of a park or trail…you’re three times as likely to get the recommended daily physical allowance for exercise and that’s super important for your health,” Jones said. “We’re also looking to improve many of the parks we already have with maintenance upgrades and other expansion ideas.”
The Downtown Renewal Project and the Parks and Recreation’s 10-year-plan will take a while to finish. However, both have the same goal of making the city of Lynchburg a better and more appealing place to be.