New pilings at Jamestown-Scotland Ferry to minimize environmental damage

Staff Writer

When you ride the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, you might have noticed new pilings at the Jamestown terminal.

The Virginia Department of Transportation upgraded the posts used when the ferries dock: They’ve changed from chemically treated wood to a composite structure in an effort to reduce environmental impacts and save taxpayer dollars, according to VDOT spokeswoman Nina Napolitano.

Just after Labor Day this year, VDOT contract crews began driving the composite support stakes into the riverbed and finished on Dec. 3, Napolitano said. The project isn’t over though; old wooden pilings still need to be removed and caps for the new composite pilings need to be installed.

The new pilings will not leach chemicals such as creosote like their predecessors, and they’ll save VDOT money, Napolitano said.

In an email, Napolitano said the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry Facility Manager Wes Ripley budgets nearly $850,000 annually to replace groups of wooden pilings — known as dolphins. The facilities replace some of the dolphins every two to three years.

VDOT expects the new pilings will have a useable lifespan of more than 20 years, Napolitano said.

Ripley aims to update both sides of the James River with the composite pilings, but for now, the Jamestown side is a start, Napolitano said.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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