CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Plans are still in place for the City of Charleston’s riverfront and Kanawha Boulevard to see some transformation.

The Charleston Capital Connector Project will convert a 3.5 mile stretch of the Kanawha Boulevard along the riverfront from the West Side to the East End. The main stretch of transformation for the project will be from Magic Island to the 35th Street Bridge.

Those who spend some of their time along the Boulevard, whether it’s running, walking their dog or walking by themselves, attended the first of a few planned public meetings regarding the Capital Connector Project Tuesday evening in Charleston. City officials and GAI Consultants, Inc. laid out to residents the plan they have over the next few months for attacking the project.

Landscape Architect with GAI James Yost detailed some of the conceptual plans they have for the Boulevard which they want to make more accessible. The plans include possibilities for expanded sidewalks, bike lanes and two or three-lane traffic. Initial meetings with stakeholders in the city began in April.

“We’ve already had different meetings with city staff so that we can understand some of the constraints from them,” he said.

Yost is a Charleston native who studied at WVU. He’s previously worked on other projects in the city, but said this project in particular is one he’s really excited about.

“I run the boulevard regularly so I’m aware of some of the constraints that we have out there and some of the issues with getting over to it,” Yost said.

GAI will take the feedback they get through their surveys from residents who are frequent users of the boulevard and use it during their design process over the next few months.

“We will come back to you again to make sure and see that we got things right,” said Yost. “You’ll be able to nitpick us a little bit more.”

Yost expects his team to come up with a master plan sometime around September and submit that to the city for review by November. At least two other public meetings will happen before there is final submitted plan from GAI.

“We will make sure we do our best to get everything right,” Yost told folks Tuesday. “We’re not going to be able to fit everything in but we’re going to try our best to make this the best possible riverfront that we can for the City of Charleston.”

Having wider sidewalks and better overall access to the water were some of the key ideas people brought up at the meeting. Some also mentioned having a kayak and rental boat launch area for Kanawha River and upgrading the steps that take people from the roadway down right next to the river.

Regardless, the sense from people about what Kanawha Boulevard and the riverfront can end up looking like in Charleston is positive. The word “potential” seemed to be a common theme Tuesday.

As GAI gets further into the design and planning process, other members of the team will look into additional sources of funding including grants for the project. Yost, who’s also the Project Manager, expects the design process to take around one year.

Last year, U.S Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito helped in securing a $1.75 million RAISE (Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure for Sustainability and Equity) Grant from the U.S Department of Transportation to get initial planning for the project up and running.

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said the city has also applied for a $25 million construction grant. She said this project will help make the City of Charleston a more “bikeable and walkable city.”

“This is just one step to get us there,” she said. “This is going to change the face of out waterfront.”

A public survey from GAI is still live and will be through July.