Projects to Make VA's Capitol "Green"

Gov. Bob McDonnell broke ground Tuesday on a set of construction projects that will “green” Virginia’s Capitol grounds and surrounding Richmond streets.

He was joined by the City of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, and other local leaders to initiate these projects that will retrofit the Capitol and make it one of the greenest in the nation. Several low impact development techniques will let storm water slowly infiltrate rather than flow over the ground and into the James River.

Speaking about Tuesday’s event, McDonnell notes, “The James River was the waterway of the early colonists. It is one of the most beautiful and historic rivers in the country. I am pleased that we are able to be a leader in protecting this natural resource and Virginia treasure from pollution through these innovative storm water practices.

"This project will set a standard for other urban areas and capitols, and is another step forward in our ongoing efforts to conserve and preserve the natural beauty and resources of Virginia.”

The “Greening Virginia’s Capitol” project is jointly managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Department of General Services, the City of Richmond and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. The project is funded by a $798,988 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The ‘Greening the Capitol’ project is in line with our overall efforts in the city of Richmond for a greener and more environmentally friendly city,” says Jones. “Also, we are unique as a city in that we have a major urban park system under a conservation easement. Protecting our James River Park System is of paramount importance, and this project furthers that goal.”

Some of the projects designed for downtown Richmond are rain gardens and porous pavers, both of which allow stormwater to filter through them. The filtering of the water helps to clean it before it reaches groundwater below. The rain gardens will also beautify the capitol grounds and city streets.

Key projects on the capitol grounds and Richmond streets include:

- Porous brick pavers will replace terraced steps leading down from the Washington equestrian statue.
- Rain gardens will be installed in front of the Bell Tower, the Darden Garden parking area, and on 9th and 10th streets.
- A system will be developed to collect stormwater runoff and redirect the water into the irrigation system on Capitol grounds.
- Porous pavers will be installed in the alleys of 5th and 12th streets.
- A new sidewalk with porous pavers will be installed that will run by the front of the Edgar Allen Poe statue and adhere to the Capitol Square Landscape Master Plan.

The entire project should be complete by spring of 2011.