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The RRPDC is a regional planning agency serving
the Town of Ashland;
the City of Richmond; and
the counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, and Powhatan.

Richmond Regional
Planning District Commission

9211 Forest Hill Avenue
Suite 200
Richmond, VA 23235

Directions to RRPDC

Phone:  804.323.2033
Fax:  804.323.2025

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


Chapel Island Enhancement Project

Nathan Burrell, James River Park System Manager,
overseeing the building of the boat ramp on Chapel Island.

The RRPDC is partnering with the City of Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities/James River Parks to sponsor the creation of a system of trails, interpretive signage, and a canoe/kayak put-in ramp on Chapel Island.

The project is funded by a grant from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCZM) obtained by the RRPDC, who serves as the fiscal agent. The project funds are being matched through in-kind labor by hundreds of volunteers from many groups, including James River Hikers, HandsOn Greater Richmond, Friends of the James River Park, Altria volunteers, and school-sponsored groups.

The project was completed and a celebratory opening in conjunction with the Virginia Capital Trail trailhead at Great Shop Lock Park was held on October 15, 2013. Chapel Island Final Report summarizes the project partners, process and outcome of the work effort.


Chapel Island is accessible from the Great Shiplock Park section of the James River Park System and sits just across the canal from the soon-to-be improved trailhead of the Virginia Capital Trail. Google map of Chapel Island.

Project Details

This project will increase access to the James River in the east end of Richmond by opening access to approximately 5.8 acres of riverfront park land. The enhanced accessibility and safety on Chapel Island will provide health benefits, wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing, walking, paddling, and other environmentally friendly activities to a wider community.

Trails will make the island an extension of the City’s bicycle and pedestrian network, and connect it to the Virginia Capital Trail, the Canal Walk and the James River Park System as well as proposed trails in the City Riverfront Master Plan. Through interpretative signage, the project will highlight the history of the island and its historic role for the City, as well as the James River and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The amenity will be used by the growing number of area residents, and will serve to promote the City and its history as more tourists take advantage of the Virginia Capital Trail. The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation is undertaking a companion project transforming the Great Ship Lock Park into a primary trailhead in the City of Richmond.

A canoe/kayak put-in will further increase access and diminish the impact that human activity has on the river by providing well-defined access for paddlers.

The interpretive signage will explain various features of the island including the Combined Sewer Overflow retention basin, the ecology of the James' tidal portion, and the history of the island and the Trigg Shipyard. Informal overlooks will accentuate the impression of interaction with the river.

History of Chapel Island

Chapel Island has a rich history, including being noted as a possible first landing site for Captains John Smith and Christopher Newport in 1607, as well as the site of the Trigg Shipbuilding Company in 1898. Two large 15-foot high concrete walls of the Trigg remain today.

Chapel Island is owned by the City’s Department of Public Utilities and the western portion of the island is occupied by a 50-million gallon combined sewer overflow (CSO) covered retention basin.

Richmond Regional Planning District Commission | 9211 Forest Hill Avenue | Suite 200
Richmond, VA 23235 | (804) 323-2033

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