Thus, step three: The full 80-mile BRT network. If it becomes reality, five lines will fan out from downtown Richmond, covering all its major urban neighborhoods and several important suburban areas.
After the Broad Street line, there would be a second line west of downtown, through the heart of Richmond’s fabulous Fan neighborhood. Another line would go northeast to Mechanicsville. Two more would cross the James River south into Manchester before splitting, one to Midlothian and Westchester, the other to Brandermill.
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After a half-century of decline, the city’s demographic fortunes kicked into growth gear again. As young people and empty nesters flocked to the metropolitan region’s urban core, the population rebounded to 210,000 by 2015.
That upward trend is far from spent, says Mark Olinger, the city’s planning director. Indeed, if no big issue arises, such as a spike in the crime rate, he says, “I can see the city getting up to 300,000 by 2037.”
If he’s right, such a surge would represent one of the biggest booms in the city’s 235-year history. The idea is not implausible. Following a national pattern, Millennials crave the excitement of life and work at the urban center, real estate developers are building housing to accommodate them, and employers are following the workforce. The real estate action in the Richmond metropolitan area tight now is in the city, not the once-dominant suburban counties of Henrico and Chesterfield.