Access Week! One of the first complaints most people have when discussing the James River in Richmond is that there aren’t enough access points. This is Day 4 as James River News Hub tackles the topic of access points.
The canals in Richmond should be opened up for paddlers to connect parks and existing access points. Paddlers could form circuits where one could park at a given parking lot, either paddle down river or up the canal, make a run and paddle back to their vehicle.
The term “greenway” in urban planning is the concept of connecting the city and its citizens through urban corridors of green. Connecting via waterway is considered a “blueway” and the would be the perfect way to creat two-way traffic.
I’ve written and detailed extensively plans for paddling in the Haxall Canal, which would connect Pipeline Rapids from behind the Christopher Newport’s “Cross” on Canal Walk to the western end of Brown’s Island and put back in the water at Tredegar Beach, 100 feet away. White water paddlers could do that circuit all day and I’ve had many tell me they love the concept. The distance is only half a mile and would just require the construction of a dock behind “Cross.”
Some dedicated paddlers already carry or push their kayaks on the catwalk railings back up over Pipeline to make the run again.
Secondly, open up the canal behind Dominion at Oregon Hill to form a circuit for paddlers from Tredegar to Pump House Park. I’ve done field research by scouting some of the land one might see along the canal. That one might be a tougher sell to CSX and would require a lot more effort for the paddlers to get about two miles up river.
The keys to both will be getting a large entity (CSX and Venture Richmond) to see the benefit of allowing this. Opening the Haxall Canal seems too easy to ignore and should have already been granted long ago. CSX has a 50-foot right-of-way on each side of the railroad tracks, which were mostly laid on the old towpaths of the canal. That means that the canals and the water within them are under their control. That doesn’t mean they can’t be cool and grant permission, but it would take a movement. Let’s get one started Richmond!
Do you want this? What would it take to happen? Would this give Richmond a huge economic boost as an outdoor sports draw?
Your comments are valued, as members of the Friends of the James River Park, James River Outdoor Coalition and other volunteer groups that work to help maintain the river discuss these issues often and need input from dedicated river-goers. Want to make a difference? Join one of these groups!