Colonial National Historical Park in Virginia has announced an $11.2 million York River shoreline stabilization project that will repair and stabilize approximately three miles of the river’s shoreline that have severe erosion.
The project is being funded through the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) and will protect significant archaeological sites in the park and the stability and alignment of the Colonial Parkway.
The Colonial Parkway is a popular twenty-three-mile scenic roadway that stretches from the York River at Yorktown to the James River at Jamestown, linking Virginia’s historic triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. It is used by millions of travelers annually to access and enjoy the area’s natural and cultural beauty.
Due to increased hurricane frequency and intensity, storm surges and tidal events, parts of the shoreline have eroded substantially, posing a hazard that threatens the safety of park visitors and resources.
The project will protect shoreline slopes from stormwater runoff above and undercutting from the river below by adding rock to increase the revetment height, installing new rock sills and breakwaters, and enhancing or adding wetland and marsh habitat from Felgate’s Creek to northwest of the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown pier.
Upon project completion, this section of shoreline will be protected from further sloughing and loss, ensuring the continued stability and usability of the Colonial Parkway. The project will also reduce the park’s deferred maintenance and repair needs associated with these facilities by $8.2 million, support more than 140 jobs, and contribute $31.4 million to the nation’s economy.
Local contractor Coastal Design & Construction Inc. from Gloucester, Virginia, will perform the work. However, visitors will see work on the shoreline from the river and parkway, and may be impacted by rotating, periodic closures of the Ringfield (Felgate’s Creek), Cheatham Annex, Powhatan Village, and York River pullouts during construction, which is anticipated to take about 16 months. Closure alerts will be available on the park website.
In 2021, the park had 3.1 million visitors who spent an estimated $337 million in local communities. These expenditures supported a total of 5,040 jobs, $143 million in labor income, $245 million in value added, and $453 million in economic output in local gateway economies. This project will not only protect the park’s natural resources and visitors but will also provide opportunities for continued recreation, education, and enjoyment for current and future visitors.
The funding for the project is from GAOA’s National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund, part of a concerted effort to address the extensive maintenance backlog in national parks.
Supported by revenue from energy development, the fund provides up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to the National Park Service to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and enjoyment for current and future visitors.
Colonial National Historical Park includes several historic sites, including Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Battlefield, and Colonial Williamsburg. Visitors can explore the park’s 23-mile scenic drive, the Colonial Parkway, which connects Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown.
The park also offers a range of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, boating, and picnicking. The park has several hiking trails, including the 5-mile Virginia Capital Trail and the 2.5-mile Noland Trail, which winds through the park’s natural areas. Visitors can also enjoy fishing and boating on the York River or take a guided tour of the waterways.
While camping is not offered in Colonial National Historical Park, nearby camping options are available, including RV and tent camping at local campgrounds. Additionally, visitors can find a variety of accommodations, including hotels and bed and breakfasts, in the nearby towns of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.
The shoreline stabilization project, which will repair and stabilize approximately three miles of York River shoreline, will benefit local campground owners in the area by improving the stability and usability of the Colonial Parkway, which provides access to the park and the surrounding communities. This improvement will allow visitors to travel safely and efficiently to the area’s campgrounds, increasing the potential for tourism and economic activity in the region.