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VDOT, DRPT pick up national transportation awards for work on GRTC Pulse project

The Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) won the award in the Quality of Life/Community Development category for their collaborative effort to fund and construct The Pulse, a bus rapid transit system in the City of Richmond.

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At the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (SASHTO) this week, the Commonwealth of Virginia was recognized with two America’s Transportation Awards from SASHTO’s 12th annual regional competition. SASHTO represents fourteen departments of transportation across the southeastern United States.

The Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) won the award in the Quality of Life/Community Development category for their collaborative effort to fund and construct The Pulse, a bus rapid transit system in the City of Richmond. VDOT also was honored with an award in the Operations Excellence category for its innovative towing program, which incentivizes tow companies to clear complex commercial vehicle crashes from major highways as quickly and safely as possible.

“We are honored to be recognized by our national peers for innovative solutions that improve quality of life and expand access to economic opportunity,” said Shannon Valentine, Secretary of Transportation. “The work our team has accomplished is changing lives and transforming communities.”

With partnership from the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC), the Federal Transit Administration, the City of Richmond, Henrico County, and DRPT, the state-of-the-art Pulse system was constructed by VDOT in only 18 months within the existing right-of-way along a 7.6-mile corridor of U.S. Route 250 in the City of Richmond and Henrico County. It features two bus-only lanes, 26 real-time connected stations, environmentally-friendly transit vehicles, and a priority traffic signaling system to ensure true bus rapid transit. Additionally, the Commonwealth-funded a system-wide bus network redesign that feeds into the corridor served by The Pulse. Since its launch in 2018, The Pulse continues to exceed ridership expectations. The bus rapid transit service, combined with the redesign of the GRTC network, have led to an overall transit ridership increase of 18%.

“The Pulse is an example of a creative transportation solution that is providing new mobility options and improving the transportation system for the entire region,” said Jennifer Mitchell, DRPT Director. “DRPT is proud to have been a part of this amazing team from start to finish.”

VDOT Commissioner Stephen C. Brich added, “We are dedicated to our roles in building and operating a world-class transportation system that serves as the foundation for Virginia’s economy and quality of life. The SASHTO awards serve as reminders that each of our initiatives and projects can make positive impacts in the communities we serve.”

“This recognition is very well deserved,” said Gary Armstrong, GRTC Board Chairman. “The hard work of DRPT and VDOT was evident throughout the design and construction of the system, and DRPT’s dedication to successfully implementing a state-of-the-art BRT system was front and center from application through the award of the TIGER grant.”

As the recipient of the two awards, Virginia will now be eligible to compete for the national award, presented by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) at its annual meeting in October.

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Real ID deadline extended until 2021 amid coronavirus outbreak

The deadline for Real IDs has been extended until October 2021. The move was prompted by widespread Department of Motor Vehicle customer service center closures during the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday.

Capital News Service

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By Hannah Eason

The deadline for Real IDs has been extended until October 2021. The move was prompted by widespread Department of Motor Vehicle customer service center closures during the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday.

The deadline for the IDs was Oct. 1. After the deadline, the licenses will be required to access federal facilities, board domestic flights and enter nuclear power plants.

The application process must be completed in person, but Virginia has closed DMV customer service centers until April 2 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. DMV closures and restricted access nationwide will prevent people from receiving Real IDs. Gov. Ralph Northam added a 60-day extension to any license or registration expiring before May 15.

“The federal, state and local response to the spread of the Coronavirus here in the United States necessitates a delay in this deadline,” acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said in a news release. “Our state and local partners are working tirelessly with the Administration to flatten the curve and, therefore, we want to remove any impediments to response and recovery efforts.”

A regular driver’s license can still be used for driving, voting and verifying identity. Real IDs are marked by a black or gold star symbol in the top-right corner of the license.

The Real ID application process requires multiple forms of identity, such as:

  • U.S. passport or birth certificate

  • Social security card or W-2 form displaying social security number

  • Two of the following: valid Virginia driver’s license, recent utility bills, mortgage statements or leasing agreements

  • Proof of name changes if applicable

Non-U.S. citizens must show proof of identification and legal presence, such as an unexpired passport and visa, permanent resident card or employment authorization document. Virginians who do not have a Real ID must have federally accepted identification, such as a passport, to board a domestic flight or enter a secured federal facility.

Farmville resident Ethan Bowman, who was left unemployed by the coronavirus outbreak when he was unable to start a new political marketing job, has not received a Real ID but said an extension will help him.

“I don’t have a copy of my birth certificate,” Bowman said. “So I would have to get that somehow before the deadline.”

Right now, there are other things on Bowman’s mind. He said his two roommates are out of work due to the pandemic, and the two grocery stores in the town of 8,000 were low on food Wednesday.

“We sent my cousin out for food and he just sent a bunch of pictures back to our little group chat, and it was just empty shelves, everywhere,” Bowman said of the Walmart Supercenter in Farmville.

Casey Tharpe, a respiratory therapy major at Radford University Carilion, received a Real ID in January after an eight-hour day of computer issues at the DMV in South Boston.

“You just had to check this box for Real ID, but honestly I really have no use whatsoever for Real ID,” Tharpe said. “I’ve been on a plane once in my life.”

Wolf stated that extending the deadline would also allow the Department of Homeland Security to work with Congress and implement the “needed changes to expedite the issuance of Real IDs.”

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Events

Live Updates: Ongoing list and information on Richmond area institution and event closures, postponements

With new information and cancellations coming in by the hour, the below is our attempt to keep you up to date on the latest Richmond area closures, cancellations, and community information, with links to relevant resources for more. We’ll continue to update this article as we learn more. Feel free to leave your own in the comments or email to [email protected]

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Government & Community Organizations

Restaurants/Breweries

Please note that this list is rapidly changing and we’re doing our best to keep it updated but we will at time have some outdated information. Please let us know if there has been a change.

In the interest of public health and safety, the administration of Mayor Levar Stoney recommends that all restaurants, bars, and other establishments that serve food and drink within city limits eliminate bar seating, move tables at least six feet apart and limit their on-site service to 50 percent of their normal capacity. If 50 percent of capacity exceeds the CDC-recommended limit of 50 people gathered, establishments should limit their service to 50 or fewer patrons. The recommendation does not affect any restaurant’s capacity to offer carryout and delivery. In order to support the residents and businesses of Richmond, the administration will introduce on March 23 an ordinance outlining a city amnesty program for all penalties and interest on most local taxes due between March 13 and June 30, 2020. This proposed program will exclude personal property taxes on vehicles, motor vehicle license taxes, and vehicle license fees, as required by ordinance. The city is also exploring options for a program to issue small, no-interest loans to support small businesses. More information on this will be provided at a later date.

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Barker Field, Chimborazo, and Northside Dog Parks will Close to the Public

Effective Saturday, March 28, 2020, PRCF will close Barker Field, Chimborazo, and the Northside Dog Parks to the public until further notice.

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Statement from Parks and Recreation:

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities (PRCF) continues to take the safety and health of our patrons as a top priority. Previously, PRCF cancelled all permitted use of the athletic fields, picnic shelters, park houses, all department sponsored programs and activities, and all community centers and offices to the general public.

Effective Saturday, March 28, 2020, PRCF will close Barker Field, Chimborazo, and the Northside Dog Parks to the public until further notice. Also, traffic gates located within Byrd Park on Strollers Lane, Westover Road, and Trafford Road will be closed on both Saturday and Sunday until further notice. This closure is aimed to reduce vehicle traffic within the park and allow patrons more space to move around.

All other PRCF parks and trails remain open. Be advised that our outdoor amenities are not sanitized, so use with caution and follow the CDC health and safety guidelines. We reiterate the importance of social distancing and avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people and group activities.

We understand the importance of the park system to our residents and will re-evaluate the need for closures and cancellations as this unprecedented situation evolves.

Staff at PRCF’s Administrative Office will be available to assist residents via phone at 804-646-5733 or email at [email protected]

For more information about how the City of Richmond is responding to COVID-19, please visit www.richmondgov.com/covid19.

For more information about the department, follow PRCF on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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