Charles City Co. Opens Public Camping Area at Lawrence Lewis Jr. Park

A new public camping area serving the 52-mile Virginia Capital Trail and James River is now open at Charles City County’s Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park. The Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park Primitive Camping Area features bicycle facilities and consists of three campsites with picnic tables and a group camping area. Campsites can be reserved through Charles City County’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Charles City County’s Board of Supervisors approved a proposal for the creation of a small primitive camping area to serve the Virginia Capital Trail and Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail at Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park in 2017. The proposal was presented to the County by the James River Association and endorsed by Charles City County’s Recreation Advisory Committee and Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) awarded the James River Association a grant to support the project. The James River Association organized volunteers to install the primitive camping area in coordination with Charles City County staff members. The primitive camping area is located adjacent to existing restroom facilities near the park’s entrance.

“For many, safe recreation has been a challenge this year. Charles City County is honored to work with the James River Association to ensure everyone still has the opportunity to enjoy safe recreation options here in our community,” said Michelle Johnson, County Administrator for Charles City County. “The great outdoors is where everyone can find enjoyment, and make new memories. We welcome visitors to Charles City to create those memories here.”

The bike work station and entrance to the camping area.

Justin Doyle, Community Conservation Manager with the James River Association, stated, “It was a pleasure to work with Charles City County and the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation to bring the Lawrence Lewis, Jr Primitive Camping Area project to life. The primitive camping area fills a gap in camping access along the Virginia Capital Trail and James River, and gives cyclists and paddlers planning multi-day expeditions a new camping option.”

“It has been a privilege to work alongside Charles City County and the James River Association on this project,” shares Cat Anthony, Executive Director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, “We frequently get asked about camping or lodging opportunities along the Capital Trail. We are thrilled for the opportunities this new camping resource offers. We believe it will encourage healthy recreation and help people foster an appreciation and connection to nature and the outdoors.”

A reservation is required to use the campground. To reserve a campsite or the group camping area, individuals should call (804) 652-1601 or e-mail Reservations can be made Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm. Reservations are contingent upon campsite availability, submission of a registration form, and payment. A registration form can be found at Charles City County Parks and Recreation staff will issue a confirmation permit once the registration form and payment are submitted. Reservations can be made up to 12 months in advance.

Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park is a 26-acre public riverfront park established in 1993 to provide recreational activities to the citizens of Charles City County and surrounding areas. The park features a fishing pier, boat ramp, and picnic pavilion.

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‘Monumental’ Ashland to Petersburg Trail Already Gaining Momentum

Many already take advantage of the regional gem that is the Virginia Capital Trail, but another bike/pedestrian project, the proposed Ashland to Petersburg Trail, has promise as an urban north-south connector and protected multi-use path.

This VDOT trail is a monumental collaboration between seven localities (Ashland, Hanover County, Henrico County, Chesterfield County, Richmond, Colonial Heights, and Petersburg), the Sports Backers, and other partners. The concept “is founded on bike master planning efforts throughout the corridor,” says the Director of Outreach for Bike Walk RVA at Sports Backers, Brantley Tyndall. The approximately 41-mile trail is garnering political support and made a big step toward completion during the General Assembly sessions this year.

Largely inspired by the Indianapolis Cultural Trail in Indiana, the ATP would connect key regions and areas of development. The ICT is smaller and entirely downtown, but according to Tyndall, the ICT’s success has shown the value of a car-less path going big with wide lanes and landscaping. Sports Backers’ website calls the Trail “a spine for regional transportation” and “an opportunity to ‘connect the dots’ and establish another long-distance trail that provides opportunities for active transportation, recreation, and economic development.” Tyndall explains that the ATP will be built by localities. “Henrico builds the Henrico section, for example, and the sections can be constructed independently and concurrently. So, it could happen relatively fast.”

According to Sports Backers, “Several sections of the ATP already exist or are planned in localities’ comprehensive and special area plans including the existing Ashland Trolley Line Trail and Chester Linear Park, and the planned Trolley Line Connector in Henrico, Brook Road protected bike lanes in Richmond, and the Northern Jefferson Davis Special Area Plan in Chesterfield.” 

The ATP alignment in Richmond includes Jackson Ward, downtown, and potentially the T. Tyler Potterfield bridge or the Manchester Bridge, but more options could be considered. One reason is that the 2nd Street route for accessing the T Pott Bridge is too steep to be ADA-compliant. 

Tyndall says that Ashland has already started to build, Henrico is looking at the Bryan Park area, Richmond at the Commerce Road area, and Chesterfield also submitted grants for the Route 1 section. “Those sections in the pipeline should see action in the next year or two,” he says.

Many interested parties attended the recent General Assembly meetings where legislation affecting funding of the Trail, House Bill 1541, was discussed. HB1541 would “create the Central Virginia Transportation Authority and raise state taxes to fund projects in Chesterfield County and eight other Richmond-area localities. … The measure has broad support among local governments in the region – particularly Chesterfield, which expects to receive about $45 million a year in new revenue to help tackle its $2.1 billion list of unfunded transportation priorities,” explained Jim McConnell in the Chesterfield Observer on February 5. McConnell writes, “Among the other big-ticket items on [Chesterfield’s] list are … $20 million to build a segment of the Ashland-to-Petersburg trail, a planned mixed-use path that will stretch 41 miles and link the region’s four big localities. It also includes $78 million in other sidewalk and shared-use path projects that would significantly improve connectivity across the county for pedestrians and cyclists.” As of March 4, HB1541 passed in both the House and the Senate and can soon go before Gov. Northam.

Still, the completion of the trail is years away. “There is no firm timeline,” Tyndall says. “The alignment is complete at this time, but things could change, including the name. What’s expected to stay consistent is the growing momentum around it.”

The ATP is projected to cost about $192 million, a bit less than three times the cost of the Capital Trail. This is due in part to the fact that traversing urban areas is often more expensive than rural areas, but it’s important to note that “the ATP is about capitalizing on already great areas like Brown’s Island,” says Tyndall. “These are reasons why elected officials are excited about it. It will be its own economic tourism and health generator.”

Beyond the main corridor, future projects could manifest spur connections. VDOT’s Final Study Report, published February 4, mentions that suggested connections to some locations were discussed by STAG [Stakeholder Technical Advisory Group] members. These discussed locations include Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond Main Street Amtrak Station, Staples Mill Road Amtrak Station, [and the] Appomattox River Trail.

What excites many about this project, says Tyndall, is that “The ATP is about connecting so many places: residences, historic sites, businesses, railbeds, rivers, and more. It could be the backbone of what could become I-95 for bikes.”

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Virginia Capital Trail Hosts First-Ever ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ Ceremony

Historic Westover Church, in partnership with Basket & Bike, is hosting the first-ever ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ ceremony along the Virginia Capital Trail on Sunday, October 21 at 2 p.m. Westover Church, which dates from 1730, is located at Mile Marker 25 in Charles City County. This annual event started in New York City in the late 1990’s and has since spread to other parts of the country. Westover is excited to bring this popular tradition to the Virginia Capital Trail, a 52-mile trail connecting Richmond and Williamsburg along the beautiful Route 5 corridor.

A blessing of the bikes ceremony in New York City. Credit:

“I am excited to welcome cyclists from Richmond, Williamsburg and across the region to Westover for this special occasion,” said April Greenwood, Rector, Westover Episcopal Church. “We are proud to have the Virginia Capital Trail as a neighbor and are thankful for the fun and recreation it provides to countless bikers and walkers. For Westover, the importance of this event is to bless the Trail’s many users to keep them safe as they enjoy this wonderful resource.”

“Since its completion in 2015, the Virginia Capital Trail has gained a reputation as a destination for bikers from across the Commonwealth and around the globe,” said Anne Poarch, Founder, Basket & Bike. “As a
world-class amenity that attracts visitors from near and far, it is only fitting that the VA Capital Trail should join other biking communities in hosting a ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ ceremony. Westover graciously opens its doors to the thousands of cyclists who pedal past each year, and so I am very grateful to April for her hospitality.”

Event Details

Who: Cyclists from Richmond, Williamsburg and across Central Va
What:   First-Ever ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ Ceremony on the VA Capital Trail

When: Sunday, October 21 at 2:00pm
Where: Westover Church, 6401 John Tyler Highway, Charles City (Va. Capital Trail – Mile Marker 25)

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There’s Still Time to Enter the 2018 Cap2Cap Ride

There’s still time to sign up and ride in the 13th VCU Health Cap2Cap. The annual fundraiser ride for the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation is this Saturday (May 12th) at the Charles City County Courthouse complex. This year, organizers are expecting 1,500 riders of all ages and abilities — from an 86-year-old who is riding the 50-miler, to a 4-year-old who has already signed up for the fun ride.

The event begins at 7:30 a.m. with the first group, the Waste-Management Century riders.  These cyclists will ride 100 miles all over Charles City and Eastern Henrico County roads.

The Virginia Credit Union Half-Century group begins its mass start at 8:30 a.m., the Agee’s Bicycles 25-Miler begins at 9:30 a.m.  The Virginia Capital Trail 15-Mile Fun ride kicks off at 9:45am.

The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation asks that residents be aware that Rt. 5 at the Charles City County Courthouse will be closed for the mass starts only. Riders will be out on the routes throughout the day, so anyone planning to be passing through the area is advised to use caution.  Click here for the routes and more information.

This event raises funds for the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation whose mission is to oversee enhancement, promotion, and ongoing development of the Virginia Capital Trail, a paved, multi-use trail connecting Richmond to Williamsburg along the historic Rt. 5 corridor.

Online registration is open through May 9th.  Walk up registration will be available after this date. For more information, please contact Cat Anthony, executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation at 804-788-6455 or by email at

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BridgePark: A Brief History

We spend countless hours with our community’s young people talking about the process of tackling a
new idea, so we thought it useful to share with the rest of you how BridgePark has tried to chart a careful
process as advocates for the community. Below is a brief summary of the bold steps to date. We have so enjoyed this ride with Richmond.

In March 2012, local leaders Mike Hughes (at the time, President of The Martin Agency), and Ella Kelley
wrote a letter to the editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch suggesting that the soon-to-be-demolished
Huguenot Bridge would “make quite a park.” The two were inspired by the wildly successful High Line in
New York and our own iconic river and culture. It was an overwhelmingly popular idea. However, plans
to remove the old bridge in favor of a new one were too far apace to reverse.

The ruins of the Richmond-Petersburg Railroad bridge. Credit: CPJ Photography

Later that year, Mike, Ella, and a team of local advocates reoriented around a site downtown and formed a private foundation to further advance the idea. Many experts across Virginia, including architects, designers, marketing experts, planners, and city staff contributed time and other resources to plans for the proposed park.

Richmond Bridgepark Foundation envisioned an adaptive reuse of the powerful ruins of the 1838 Richmond-Petersburg Railroad Bridge, a site just below the Manchester Bridge and downstream of the Dam Walk later proposed in the City’s Riverfront Plan. The idea was to erect a new bridge deck on top of the old piers. Again, the community embraced this novel ideation to increase river access and the sheer beauty of this site.

Throughout 2013 and beyond, the Foundation undertook an extensive community engagement effort to
share the BridgePark concept with hundreds of community members, receiving valuable feedback from
many of our most dedicated leaders and river stewards.

In December of 2013, on a pair of somber Sunday mornings, Mike and Ella left this life and left us with a
weighty responsibility to embrace the extraordinary with the same boldness and love that they did.
The following year, The Foundation leaned into its founders’ audacity and began thinking even bigger
about the opportunity BridgePark could present for our City. BridgePark hired local engineering firm,
The Timmons Group, and local architecture firm, Spatial Affairs Bureau (SAB), to first examine the
community’s input from these 18 months of meetings, then collect data and analyze the proposed
BridgePark site with that advice in mind. The study considered the existing conditions and opportunities
provided by the natural landscape alongside the stated wants and needs of the community.

Ted Elmore gives a presentation about the BridgePark. Credit: Collegiate School

That study also had the goal of probing the idea of repurposing the ruined pillars and, in so doing, unlocking the greatest potential for BridgePark. What is the absolute best opportunity for our city with this site?

As a design and community engagement tool, SAB built a 14’ long, 4’ wide scale model of the proposed site based in part on the survey prepared by The Timmons Group. The model has been used to engage the community in maximizing BridgePark’s vision.

During the ideas study, more than 30 city departments and community organizations tested the model
with the architecture team to provide feedback for the final recommendations of the study. Preliminary
study results were then presented to over 100 stakeholders, gathering another round of comments.

The Foundation then hosted three open community meetings in 2015 to outline the ideas and receive
further reactions and suggestions. In total, the model has been displayed in 10 different locations throughout the city. Displays prompt fascinated stares, pointed questions, and critical feedback. And, for several days when we weren’t looking, a creative Richmonder posted a coterie of sea monsters below the model of the bridge.

Of the many ideas presented by our design team, the community was by far most attracted to the
potential of “parking” on a portion of the Manchester Bridge along 9th Street downtown. That space
would offer a city-level park reminiscent of the original High Line prompt, preserve views of the stunning
and historically significant ruins, avoid building in the River, complement the proposed river-level Dam
Walk, unlock the adjoining Kanawha Plaza, create cost and construction efficiencies over repurposing
the ruins, reduce the city’s carbon footprint, and make strong direct connections to destinations within
the city, all at the same grade.

‘What If’ cards… Credit: Chris Marcussen Photography

The Foundation then went to work tenfold at further developing this idea with the community,
launching yet another extensive community engagement process around the concept, including
speaking engagements with our consultants and staff, hundreds more meetings, several student-led studies and workshops, cards inviting collaboration, panels, and programs. The idea became more
popular than ever. BridgePark began planning and fundraising for its next phase

In September of 2016, Kanawha Plaza, an identified opportunity in the BridgePark plan, underwent a cleanup and renovation that could pave the way for a larger vision.

In December of 2016, the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge (aka the Dam Walk, aka the T-Pott)
opened upstream of the BridgePark site, creating a dramatic river-level crossing of the James. The T-Pott
immediately drew record crowds of crossers to the riverfront.

In February of 2018, the Foundation launched Phase Two of architecture and engineering for the
project, reengaging SAB and hiring structural engineering and planning firm Buro Happold to further test
and refine the project, again with the community’s input in mind. Receipt of Phase Two’s master plan
and results will prompt a fourth round of community engagement, so look out for those announcements. The much-loved model will go back on tour. Only this time, it will need larger venues. BridgePark is first and foremost a park for the community by the community. To date, we have involved a wide array of Richmonders with intention, favored stewardship over speed, responsiveness over rigidity, and thoughtfulness over ease.

Similarly, this series seeks to inform the public and create a dialogue that improves the project. We ask
you to read and respond, and, in so doing, continue to help us elevate RVA. Write us at

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Sports Backers Announce New Overnight, Run-Bike Relay Race

Sports Backers, in partnership with Ragnar Relay, announced a new event today — the ‘Run Bike Relay presented by Ragnar‘ to be held on June 22-23, 2018.

The overnight relay event will go from Richmond to Jamestown and back, utilizing trails in the James River Park System, the Virginia Capital Trail, the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, and the Greensprings Greenway Trail in James City County, among others, as participants aim to complete this new relay event on foot and by bike.

Registration is now open for the event at, and the course map can be found at the following link: During the relay, teams of four, two, or even solo racers will bike and run a 120-mile route from Virginia’s capital city to Jamestown and then trek back to Richmond. There are a total of 12 segments made up of six running and six biking legs<>. The running segments range in length from four to six miles and consist mostly of dirt trails, while the biking segments range from 13 to 20 miles and will occur on paved trails. Each participant will complete at least three sections of the course, with the specific order determined by each team.

Ragnar offers the largest overnight relay series in the United States, and the Run Bike Relay marks the second time that Sports Backers and Ragnar are partnering for an event, after the Ragnar Trail RVA event, now in its third year at Pocahontas State Park. Sports Backers and Ragnar share a goal of visiting inspiring and scenic destinations, and the James River Park trail system and Virginia Capital Trail, among other course highlights, will provide a challenging backdrop for Run Bike Relay participants.

The Virginia Capital Trail will feature prominently in the new race.

“The Run Bike Relay provides a unique opportunity for participants to experience great active living amenities in an exciting relay format,” said Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of Sports Backers. “We continue to evolve and keep innovation at the forefront of our events, and this is a great opportunity to work with a fellow industry leader in Ragnar to bring new events to the region.”

The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation is the official event charity of the Run Bike Relay presented by Ragnar. Their mission is to enhance, promote, and advocate for the continued development of the Virginia Capital Trail, a 52-mile dedicated multi-use trail connecting Richmond and Williamsburg along the historic and scenic Route 5 corridor. Registration for regular (four-person), ultra (two person), and solo (one person) teams is now available at, with a June 15 entry deadline.

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BridgePark Enters Next Phase

As a result of its successful (and ongoing) fundraising campaign, the Richmond BridgePark Foundation
has commissioned a team of world-class consultants to further examine options for its ambitious
plan to link downtown Richmond with a linear park across the James River.

This next phase of research and idea development builds on the inspired concept design created by Richmond and Los Angeles based architecture firm, Spatial Affairs Bureau, in 2015. Timmons Group assisted in the civil engineering aspects of the 2015 study. That concept development prompted an extensive community engagement process to receive valuable feedback, make concept improvements, and begin fundraising and preparation for Phase 2 of architecture and engineering work.

A possible version of the Bridge Park — looking south down the revamped Manchester Bridge.

Phase 2 planning will be led by Spatial Affairs Bureau and New York based engineering firm,
Buro Happold, structural engineers for The High Line in New York.

“We are humbled by the community’s overwhelming support and thrilled to work with this extraordinarily accomplished team. The popularity of the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge coupled with the exciting projects pending downtown make now an ideal time for us to contribute a vision to our City,” said Ted Elmore, BridgePark President.

The Foundation has an office in Riverfront Plaza downtown, where they display a scale model of the proposed site. The office regularly receives community leaders and student groups to learn more about the project and engage in educational programming around architecture, design, planning, and ideation.’s Jonathan Spiers reported that the foundation intends “to complete this latest planning phase by the end of this quarter, after which results will be presented to the public. [Elmore] said the phase will include engagement with the community and getting feedback on the concepts.”

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Podcast #3: Exploring the Future of the Va. Capital Trail

Today we released our third “Views from the Treehouse” podcast, recorded in RO’s secret treehouse headquarters. Our first two featured Ralph White (one podcast cannot contain the greatness that is the former James River Park manager). In this one, Matt Perry and I sat down with Catherine “Cat” Anthony. The VCU grad hasn’t been out of college for a decade, but just last fall she was installed as the the new executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. She’s charged with shaping the future of one of the Central Virginia’s most popular outdoor recreation resources — the 52-mile ribbon of asphalt that runs from Richmond to Jamestown and drew over 1 million visits last year. What’s her vision for the trail? What will it’s economic impact be? How safe is it? How will we fund its continued maintenance? All these questions — and our usual James Lipton-esque rapid fire session at the end — are a click away!

Check it out!

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Bike Walk RVA Needs Support for Bike/Ped Infrastructure, Safety Initiatives

Credit: Sports Backers

Last week, the Sports Backers were looking for input on the new RVA Bike Share program and where new stations should go as part of Phase 2. Now Bike Walk RVA, the SBs’ advocacy arm, is sounding the alarm on bike lanes, pedestrian safety and James River Park infrastructure, issues that should matter to a whole host of outdoors-minded Richmonders. From Bike Walk RVA director Max Hepp-Buchanan:

Like you, we were excited for 20+ miles of new bike lanes in 2017 in the city of Richmond. Unfortunately, there was less than one mile of new bike lanes built for the entire year. Like you, we are tired of waiting. And with 12 combined bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in Richmond last year alone, we can’t wait for safe streets. We need to start 2018 off strong, and we need your help.
Please join us for the first #WeCantWait campaign meet-up where we will work together on a strategy to hit the ground running (and rolling) in the New Year. That means actually building bike lanes that are already funded and designed, finishing and acting on a strong Vision Zero plan, and dedicating funding to future transformational projects like the Missing Link Trail.
When: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 / 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Where: Capital Alehouse Richmond, 623 E. Main Street

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Much to See, Do at Appomattox Riverfest

On Saturday, April 29th the Friends of the Lower Appomattox River will stage the 3rd annual Appomattox RiverFest (with co-sponsor Fort Lee). This day long family event is great for nature lovers, birders, history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone who wants to spend a beautiful day outdoors enjoying the scenic and historic treasures of the Appomattox River.

Fishing lessons are among the many offerings at FOLAR’s Appomattox Riverfest on April 29th.

From 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Appomattox Riverside Park – at the rocky rapids where Dinwiddie, Petersburg and Chesterfield meet – RiverFest will offer these activities and more:

o  Obstacle course and climbing wall with Fort Lee

o  Youth Fishing workshops, provided by Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

o  Kayaking workshops with certified instructors

o  Archaeological activities and demonstrations with Fort Lee archaeologists

o  For nature lovers – view rare fauna along the trails with a Master Naturalist

o  See and learn about the fish, reptiles, amphibians, bugs and birds that help keep the river healthy with Environment Education Specialists and Thunder Eagle Wildlife Rescue

o  Stroll or ride a tram along the River Walk Trail that provides great views of the river

o  Learn the history of the river and batteau with the Virginia Canals and Navigation Society

o  Food Trucks and Live Music by the Fort Lee Band and Mike Packer & Johnny Holt!

There will be plenty of parking with shuttle buses running throughout the day at four locations:

o   Bank of McKenney, (6300 River Rd., Petersburg VA 23803)

o   Matoaca Baptist Church (6409 River Rd., Petersburg VA 23803);

o   Matoaca Elementary School (6627 River Rd, Petersburg, VA 23803); and

o   Matoaca United Methodist Church (6301 River Rd., South Chesterfield VA 23803)

The event is free and open to the public. Additional information can be found at or Facebook, or email, or by calling (804) 543-0325.

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