September 18, 2012
Bike path could be part of comprehensive city plan

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A two-way bike lane on Kanawha Boulevard between the Patrick Street Bridge and Magic Island may be in the cards for Charleston.

The biking lane is one of the options being discussed for inclusion in "Imagine Charleston: Your dream. Our future," a comprehensive plan for the future of Charleston.

The bike lane would take the place of a plan to rehabilitate a railroad trestle bridge across the Kanawha River. The city had received federal funds to make the bridge accessible for walking and biking, but the money isn't sufficient for the project.

"So the city has been working with the state highway department to reprioritize the grant and the opportunity here is to do something on Kanawha Boulevard from Magic Island to the Patrick Street Bridge - to use a two-way bike lane on the river side," said Brad Strader of the Michigan consulting firm LSL Planning.

Putting in the bike path would mean taking out the median and narrowing the lanes to create a 10-foot-wide double bike lane on the riverside.

LSL Planning and MKSK have been hired by the city to lead officials and community members through the process of developing both a comprehensive plan for the city and a downtown redevelopment plan.

MKSK is an urban design, landscape architecture and entertainment design firm. 

After series of public meetings to hear from community members about what they'd like to see included, the team is about halfway through the process of developing that plan.

Tuesday's open house meeting gave residents the opportunity to review the plan so far. They also were able to vote on the top priorities for the plan, which is broken down into sections that include neighborhoods, mobility, quality of life, downtown livability and downtown business. The team will have another meeting in a few months to present a draft of the plan to the public.

One piece of the plan includes repurposing commercial space into green space and residential space, Strader said.

"The population in Charleston has gone down and there's more commercial space than the population can absorb," Strader said. "We may be looking to repurpose that space."

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