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HOLMBERG: Hallelujah! VDOT is landscaping Richmond gateways!

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — Perhaps you’ve seen it during your busy commutes.

A small army of landscapers, giving orders to a battalion of crepe myrtles marching in neat lines, backed up by a spidery sea of fierce liriope and fronted by a brave Carissa holly and optimistic landscape roses.

Thousands of plants. Tons of topsoil blended with compost and topped with steaming mulch.

It’s all part of the Interstate 95, I-64, Fifth Street connector gateway project by VDOT. Also well underway is a total makeover of the
Nine Mile Road ramps to I-64, with big firs and lots of other flora.

Still to come, the Belvidere and Broad Street ramps, all beautified as part of an approximate $1.5 million greening of some of the ugliest arteries in the state.

For generations, Richmond’s curb appeal has been the pits.

Folks driving through the state capital see (and smell) the sewage treatment plant, tobacco factories, rundown buildings that have been vacant for decades, low industrial structures, fuel tanks, one of the largest housing projects in the East, weedy lots, trashy shoulders, rusty fences and a seas of parking decks. (And man, remember when that nasty Belvidere toll plaza squatted on 95 downtown?)

I’ve been fussing about this for a good bit of my career as a reporter and columnist. Cities with a fraction of Richmond’s charm and beauty have far more inviting gateways.

We don’t even have a real “Welcome to Richmond” sign to speak of, a gross oversight that hopefully will soon be rectified.

This blessed green relief, I’m told, comes by order of a ranking state official who agreed that the state capital should be a little more representative of our fair state.

Thank you!

Click here to see more about the gateway project here. 

And, wow, it looks like the I-95 bridge project just north of downtown is almost done!

Now if we can just get private owners and particularly the city to take more pride in their roadside properties, we might look like we actually love our town.