Tag Archives: Riverside Drive

Granite structure at 21st Street expected to be torn down

Granite wall at 21st Street access tower on Riverside DriveDuring the recent James River Outdoor Coalition meeting, members discussed improvements and projects for the James River Park. One spot that came up was the granite structure at the 21st Street area off Riverside Drive at the tower to the South Side rocks at Belle Isle.  The members want to knock down the wall, at least to a level where the park abusers cannot hide from view from the street or the dwellings across the street. Continue reading


Pony Pasture salamanders make annual rite of passage

I’ve been told these little creatures don’t get in to the river, they just lay their eggs in the muddy pools of mud on the south side of Riverside Drive between The Meadow and Pony Pasture. Rex Springston of the Richmond Times-Dispatch made note of the salamanders annual rite of passage: Continue reading

Ride safer: Riverside Drive now less like landmine field

Potholes repaired on Riverside DriveRiverside Drive on Richmond’s south bank has the designation as of being a scenic byway, but most drivers and bikers have probably spent more time just keeping their eyes on the road itself to avoid potholes. Continue reading

Clean trash on Riverside Drive Sunday

Friends of the James River ParkWhen: Sunday, February 13, 1–3 p.m.
Where: Pony Pasture Rapids parking Lot

What: It’s time to tidy up the Park! Meet at the Pony Pasture Parking lot to pick up trash from Oxford Parkway to Riverside at Parkview. The Friends of James River Park will provide the bags, but you’ll need to wear gloves and sturdy shoes that can withstand mud. Keep and eye out because you’ll never know what you’ll find!

Riverside Drive is a ‘Scenic Byway,’ not scenic highway

Riverside Drive from Huguenot Flatwater to the Robert E. Lee Bridge is designated as a 'scenic byway'Riverside Drive from Huguenot Flatwater to the Robert E. Lee Bridge is designated as a ‘scenic byway’ and the speed limit is designated to be 25 mph. It is one of the most popular place to walk, run or bike in Richmond, yet the roadway is narrow and has little to no shoulder space and there are no sidewalks for refuge.

The subject of sharing Riverside Drive has been brought up before and brought several good comments, but as we prepare for spring and an increase in traffic to the area, it has come up again.

Continue reading

Huguenot Bridge construction has removed many trees, habitats

James River Park System has a sign just east of the bridge that may answer many questions about the Huguenot Bridge.There have been some concerned citizens worried about the removal of trees and natural habitats along the James River and scenic Riverside Drive for the construction of the replacement for Huguenot Bridge, which was constructed in 1949. A major three-year reconstruction at the estimated price tag of $51 million began earlier this month.  The James River Park System has a sign just east of the bridge that may answer many questions:

The New Huguenot Bridge

Wetland forest has been temporarily removed. This will provide space for construction and demolition equipment, supplies and access routes needed to build the new bridge and remove the old one.

The site will be restored with native trees and foot paths, but will also include a broad, shallow pond with grasses and shrubs to handle storm water from the bridge and improve ecological diversity. Work began in the winter of 2010 and is expected to be completed in the Fall of 2013.

The new bridge will be located to the west (upstream) of the current bridge. It will look much like the current one except that it will be wider in order to provide a breakdown lane — a feature that will also make the bridge friendly to bicycles and groups of runners.

The old bridge will be taken down in stages. A lane will be removed from the old bridge once a lane has been constructed on the new one. In this way, there will be no elimination of traffic — although travel delays are obviously to be expected. The old bridge was not designed for the volume and weight of traffic that it gets now and has suffered weakening of it’s concrete and rebar components.

Look for the construction of temporary causeways out into the river. These peninsulas of broken rock will allow heavy equipment to build the footings and piers that will support the bridge. At different times, one will come from the south shore and then later one from the north. They are not safe for public recreation and are sensibly off limits to public use. There is a fine for trespassing.

Something to consider:
There have been some temporary negative effects on wildlife. The removal of some large trees means the loss of some tree cavities that were winter roosts and spring nests for woodpeckers, owls, flying squirrels and the like.

The digging up of root balls has unearthed over wintering turtles, snakes, lizards and their eggs. The former tend to find other homes near by since it is park policy to preserve large and/or standing dead trees. The latter are collected by construction workers and either re-located by park staff or kept for release in the spring. When restored, however, the mix of food plants and next boxes used should create an even richer, more vibrant, and more accessible wetlands environment.

If you have any questions or comments, you may contact either m.wright@VDOT.virginia.gov or Park Manager at jriverpk@aol.com

New historic interpretive sign at Z-Dam on Riverside Drive

New interpretive sign at the Z-Dam at Williams Island on scenic Riverside Drive about 1/2 mile west of Pony PastureThere is a new interpretive sign at the Z-Dam at Williams Island on scenic Riverside Drive about 1/2 mile west of Pony Pasture. The sign was installed the first week of January. According to James River Park manager Ralph White, there are four more interpretive signs planned for installation — Great Shiplock Park, Pony Pasture, Huguenot Flatwater and along the scenic roadway overlook above the towering arches of the Atlantic Coastline Bridge (James River Railway Bridge).


The low crooked dam before you is part of the City’s water treatment complex. It creates the large pond of water to your left that backs up and around Williams Island in front of you and funnels water into the treatment plant that is out of sight about 1/2 mile to your right.

The “Z” shape of the dam is a result of attaching the foundation to prominent rocks in the riverbed.

The notch in the Z-dam 100 feet from shore allows migrating fish like shad, herring and striped bass to travel upstream to spawnThe notch in the dam 100 feet from shore allows migrating fish like shad, herring and striped bass to travel upstream to spawn. It also serves as an impromptu passageway for expert kayakers.

The frothing torrent at the base of the Z-dam creates a unique niche for wildlifeThe frothing torrent at the base of the dam creates a unique niche for wildlife. The water washes in food and oxygen while the crevices between the rocks at the bottom provide an escape from the moving water.

It is common to see bald eagles, otters, osprey and great blue herons in this area. The mix of calm water to the left, rapids to the right and tall trees along both sides shorelines creates a rich mix of habitats.

The large rocks along the shore to your left are thought to be the anchor stones of the original dam. It ran from here to the western tip of the island back in the 1800s. The pool it created allowed small boats and barges to be poled across the smooth water to the town of Westham. These vessels carried blocks of granite cut from the quarry behind you and passengers and wagons that traveled down the Old Westham Road just out of sight to your left.

The wall of rock behind you is a remnant of the granite quarry.


About 200 yards to your left is a long ridge of earth. It drops down from the hillside and intersects Riverside Drive at a right angle. It looks like a loaf of French bread with the end cut off.

This is a remnant of the Old Westham Road — once an important travel route that led to the ferry crossing. Due to rocks and rapids, this was the last place to cross the river until the bridge at Mayo’s Island seven miles down stream.

A small paved portion of the old road still remains. You can find it behind the 7-11 Store near Forest Hill Avenue & Hathaway Road. It only goes about 1/4 of a mile.

-Sign funded by a donation to the James River Park Fund by Rob and Leslie Lamphear