Richmond Regional Planning District Commission
Chapel Island/James River Public Access Enhancement Project
Project Description as Proposed:
This project will enhance access on the Chapel Island portion of Great Ship Lock Park along the easternmost portion of the James River within the City of Richmond. The project includes the following elements:
· Improvements to an approximately one-half mile trail section from the western lock crossing at the eastern end around the Trigg Shipyard to informal fishing and downriver viewing points
· A canoe/kayak put-in at the Island inlet-canal outfall, including a handicap accessible ramp, with access to James River flat water
· Interpretative signage, an overall trail map, history of Trigg Shipyard, river ecology, and the combined sewer overflow (CSO) and its function to improve water quality
The 1992 Master Plan for the Great Ship Lock Park at Chapel Island describes the rich history of the island as a possible first landing for Captains John Smith and Christopher Newport in 1607, and as the site of the Trigg Shipbuilding Company in 1898. Two large 15-foot high concrete abutments of the Trigg dry-dock remain today. Chapel Island is owned by the City’s Department of Public Utilities and the western portion of the island is occupied by a 50-million gallon combined sewer overflow (CSO) covered retention basin. Long range plans for expansion of the basin to a point west of the Trigg will leave approximately 5.8 acres for the river access improvements.
An estimated population of 9,354 (2008) lives within one-mile of Chapel Island, including residents of Church Hill, Tobacco Row, and Rockett’s Landing. This population is expected to grow by more than 35% to 12,769 in 2035 (RRPDC, 2011 Richmond Region Socioeconomic Analysis Report). An estimated 21,518 people work within one-mile of Chapel Island. The Chapel Island trail segment will directly connect to the Virginia Capital Trail, a 54-mile trail ultimately extending to Williamsburg. The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation is in a conceptual level design phase for improvements to the Great Ship Lock Park trail head, and plans are being coordinated with those for Chapel Island.
This project is vitally important to the preservation and full appreciation of Chapel Island as an evolving historic site and recreational access point. The interpretive signage will provide a unique educational opportunity to describe the James River ecosystem and the CSO system.
Supporting this proposal, the City of Richmond’s Downtown Master Plan (July 2009) identifies the James River as Richmond’s great, wet Central Park, and calls for a series of clear connections to the riverfront, including:
Open Chapel Island to pedestrians and kayakers
Chapel Island, located south of Kanawha Canal, is currently used by the City of Richmond as an overflow storage area for the city’s combined sewer system and a rail siding for freight trains. Only the very eastern tip of the island is publicly accessible, via Great Ship Lock Park. A system of loop trails should be created around the island, while still separating the general public from the combined sewer. Other elements of the proposed park should include a small boat launch, river overlooks, open space for passive recreation, and trail connections to the rest of the proposed riverfront trail system.
Make Great Ship Lock Park accessible
Great Ship Lock Park has ample parking and provides access to some of the canal’s few remaining historic locks, as well as the only current public access point onto Chapel Island. Beyond the parking lot and locks, the park’s trails and river access have been left relatively wild. With the construction of the Virginia Capital Trail, Great Ship Lock Park will become a center of activity. Existing trails should be formalized to provide easier access to the proposed trail system along Chapel Island as well as along Dock Street under the railroad truss.
The Chapel Island project is also included in the City’s Riverfront Plan currently under review by the City Planning Commission.
Barbara Jacocks- 804.323.3033; firstname.lastname@example.org
10/1/2011 - 9/30/2012
Final Product Received:
Project Summary Provided by Grantee:
Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email: Laura.McKay@deq.virginia.gov
A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to Virginia.Witmer@deq.virginia.gov