YORKTOWN, Va. -- As the York River encroaches on the Colonial Parkway, engineers have found that rocks are part of the answer to fixing critically damaged and eroded shoreline.
That is why contractors, working for the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are using heavy equipment to place large boulders along the edge of the York River to stabilize and strengthen a section of the shoreline.
"We are trying to protect the parkway, which is on the national register of historic places and one of the key elements to the park," said Dorothy Geyer, National Park Service natural resource specialist for Colonial National Historical Park.
Portions of the 23-mile roadway, which connects the site of British Lt. Gen. Lord Cornwallis' surrender to Gen. George Washington ending the Revolutionary War to the site where Capt. John smith and the Virginia Company colonists established the first settlement, are in need of protection from the ever advancing river.
Cara Snydor, Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager, said the last 50 years have taken their toll on the shoreline along the parkway and the work is the first 800 linear feet of more than four miles of shoreline identified to be stabilized along the parkway and Yorktown Battlefield.
According to National Park Service officials, the first section that contractors are working on is the most critically damaged.
"We've had a lot of storms, we've had sea-level rise, and the revetments put in in the 1980's aren't functioning anymore," said Geyer.
Geyer said waves will go over the rock and dig out the back side of the revetments and dig into the hillside.
"The water level has risen enough to make that much worse," she said.
In addition to the parkway, a sloping section of the Revolutionary War battlefield, which the river has begun to claim, is also identified for future shoreline protection. The area is more stable than the area currently under construction -- Geyer said the slopes seem to have stabilized.
Corps and NPS officials say the additional work on the remaining sections of the four miles will be completed in phases and hope to complete the project over the next decade.
We are competing for funding with other parks across the country who are equally in need of construction dollars; it’s a competitive process but we remain hopeful that by 2016 we will begin the next phase of work, Geyer said.