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Posted In: James River

Potterfield Bridge Sees Huge Visitation Numbers in First Month

Andy Thompson

January 20, 2017 2:27pm

(Credit for main photo is Chris Johnson — vintage_RVA on Instagram.)

If you missed it yesterday, the Times-Dispatch’s Ned Oliver reported that the new T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge saw huge visitation numbers in its first month being open — 35,000 visitors in December.

The T Pot at night. Credit: Chris Johnson

The statistics were part of a larger announcement of 2016 park visitation data released by Superintendent Nathan Burrell. “It’s a huge boon for the park and the city in general,” Burrell told the T-D of the T Pot bridge. “It’s a lot of people you don’t typically don’t see in the James River Park System are down exploring, so it’s great to see this new mix of people coming in and enjoying it.”

From Oliver’s piece: Overall, Burrell said the park counted 1.4 million visitors in 2016, up from 1.3 million in 2015.

The number of visitors to the bridge in December makes it easily the most popular attraction in the park that month. The next highest number of visitors — 20,000 — were counted at the north entrance to Belle Isle.

In an average winter month before the bridge opened, 7,000 people visited what was then a scenic overlook at the bridge’s northern end, the “Three Days in April” exhibit on the fall of Richmond in the Civil War. In an average summer month, as many as 25,000 visited.

Personally, I’ve been down to the bridge close to 10 times by bike or on foot and it’s almost always been packed, especially over the Christmas/New Year’s holidays.

Burrell said Belle Isle has consistently been the most popular destination in the James River Park System, with 537,000 visitors at the north entrance of the island in 2016 and 143,000 counted at the south entrance.

James River Park System visitation in 2016

Belle Isle northern entrance: 536,775 (southern entrance: 143,107)

Pony Pasture: 211,794

“Three Days in April” overlook/T. Tyler Potterfield Bridge: 193,827

Reedy Creek: 81,904

Texas Beach: 70,535

Pipeline: 67,796

Flatwater: 55,138

Ancarrow’s Landing: 54,964

Chapel Island: 53,088

Pump House: 37,662

Wetlands: 27,161

42nd Street entrance: 22,077


About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?