Henrico County VA
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Parkway completion ends four-decade wait

Officials dedicate final stretch of John Rolfe in Short Pump

Residents of the nearby Eagles Creek and Eagles Ridge communities joined in the party with county supervisors, planning commission members, and public works officials – not to mention eager motorists – as Henrico County celebrated the long-awaited completion of the John Rolfe Parkway with a Nov. 8 ribbon-cutting ceremony at John Rolfe Commons.

As the traffic barriers were cleared away following the ceremony, motorists were already waiting to proceed from Ridgefield Parkway to Pump Road and beyond, while children clapped and skipped and neighbors snapped pictures.

A motorcyclist who lives nearby was the first to travel the length of the parkway after getting in line behind the police cruiser that swept the newly opened stretch of road.

Opening Phase II of the John Rolfe Parkway (JRP) to traffic marked the culmination of more than four decades of planning and construction for the project.

The four-lane, divided roadway, which serves as a north-south connector providing western Henrico residents with direct access to West Broad Street, was originally designed as the path for Route 288.

Long time coming
"Where we're standing," said Department of Public Works Director Tim Foster in remarks preceding the ceremony, "was supposed to be a cloverleaf interchange [for Route 288]."

Following the Commonwealth Transportation Board's 1988 decision to adopt a western alignment for 288 – which now traverses the eastern end of Goochland County – Henrico officials spent a decade reworking the plans, holding hearings and completing the segment of the parkway from Lauderdale Road to Ridgefield Parkway.

It took another decade or so of hearings, route proposals and give-and-take with state and federal agencies before construction on the Phase I portion from Pump Road to West Broad St. could be completed this year.

Prior to the ceremony, Henrico officials could not resist poking fun at the amount of time the project has been in the works.

"It's been 400 years in the making," joked Foster, in a reference to the county's 400th anniversary.

"This project has taken so long that John Rolfe himself could have had a hand in it."

Bagel Boulevard?
Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazelett pointed out that he first heard of the road project when he was a traffic engineer in the Department of Public Works.

In the span of time since 1966, when Henrico officials requested a study of the proposed route for 288 from the Virginia Department of Transportation, four different county managers and seven different directors of Public Works have had to deal with the project.

"I never thought 40 years ago – no one was aware then – that this would take so long," said Hazelett.

After Route 288 moved west in 1988, Hazelett recalled, he was in a meeting where officials were munching bagels as they brainstormed a new name for the road.

Before the creative juices started flowing and officials arrived at the name of John Rolfe, said Hazelett with a chuckle, one participant amused the group by proposing in jest that they designate the road "Bagel Boulevard."

TGIF
Ironically enough, after decades of delayed attempts to finish the road, Phase II was finished almost five months ahead of schedule. The completed JRP is expected to ease traffic congestion in Short Pump as well as relieving traffic on roads such as Ridgefield, Lauderdale and Pump. In addition, it's possible that the convenient new corridor will help businesses along John Rolfe and Ridgefield to pick up new customers.

Tuckahoe Supervisor Pat O'Bannon -– who peppered her remarks with references to road signs and traffic hazards as she described the project's "bumpy timeline [abundant with] stops, starts, and yielding" – drew the loudest applause of the day as she summed up her feelings about the completed road.

"TGIF!" exclaimed O'Bannon in closing. "Thank goodness it's finished!"

Readers: How has the completion of the John Rolfe Parkway helped (or hindered) you? Has it helped shorten your commute? Saved time on shopping trips, or trips to soccer practice? Noticeably relieved traffic on other nearby roadways? Send your comments to Patty Kruszewski (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) for possible inclusion in a future update concerning the JRP and its usage.
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

New Henrico biscuit shop thrives with grandmother’s recipe

Tim Laxton rises at 4:30 a.m. every day for a biscuit. But he’s not rushing out to any restaurant to get his favorite Southern comfort food; he’s baking his own from scratch and serving them up from his bakery on Lakeside Avenue.

Laxton opened Early Bird Biscuit Co. & Bakery in early July and since then biscuits have been flying out of there.

The self-taught baker draws hungry crowds in with a biscuit of the day like the Old Bay Cheddar, but the buttermilk biscuits are the staple.

“On a Saturday I generally make about 400 biscuits with my two hands,” Laxton said. “I’m constantly making biscuits all day long.” > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

CAT Theatre announces cast of Sherlock Holmes play

CAT Theatre’s 51st season will open with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which will run from Oct. 24-Nov. 8. Adapted by Steven Dietz, it is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play.

The plot follows what seems to be the end of the career of the world’s greatest detective as he is confronted with a case far too tempting to ignore. When the King of Bohemia faces blackmail by famed opera singer Irene Adler, Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, find themselves falling into the trap of evil genius Professor Moriarty. As Holmes says, “The game is afoot Watson, and it is a dangerous one!” > Read more.

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