A recent bike ride across the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge (a.k.a. the T Pot) got me wondering where the newest unit of the James River Park System ranks compared to its neighbors — places like Belle Isle, Pony Pasture Rapids, Huguenot Flatwater, Texas Beach, etc. — in terms of visitation. The pedestrian bridge that connects Brown’s Island to Manchester opened in early December 2016, and was a hit immediately, drawing 35,000 visitors that month, even more than perennial favorite Belle Isle.
So, I shot JRPS Superintendent Nathan Burrell an email last week asking about T Pot visitation as well as numbers for the entire system. It turns out the metal span just upstream of our very own RVA Osprey Cam has continued to be a major draw all year.
Through the end of October the park system’s infrared counters tallied 399,441 visits, and that doesn’t include a number of days in June and July when the counter malfunctioned. Considering that, and the fact that November and December are yet to be counted, it’s likely the T Pot will see close to 500,000 visits in 2017.
If that number sounds huge, it is. Burrell said that the park’s 14 units will see somewhere close to 2 million visits in 2017, up from about 1.4 million last year. And the T Pot now rivals perennial RVA favorite Belle Isle in visits. In fact, with two months of counting still to happen, which unit will come out on top is still too close to call. (If you’re scoring at home, Pony Pasture is likely the third most popular unit.)
So, if you’re reading this and you haven’t been to the T Pot yet, check out the map below and go take it in. You can park on the north side by Brown’s Island and walk south or park on the south side by the Sun Trust building and walk north. Either way, you’ll get a river a experience that huge numbers of Central Virginians are clambering for.