County hopes to expand Morgan Ford landing

Ernest Miller of Front Royal walks along the parking lot next to the Morgan Ford Bridge in Warren County. Warren County is working with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to expand the facilities beside the new bridge that would include a canoe and kayak ramp, car parking, trailer parking, a picnic area, and portable restrooms. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – The recently opened Morgan Ford Bridge is not the only upgrade in store for the area, as county staff is seeking grant opportunities to expand the nearby undersized boat landing.

The county has worked about a year with state and federal agencies to identify  funding for a boat landing and recreational amenities. County General Services Director Brandy Rosser said plans include a hard canoe and kayak ramp, a picnic area, portable bathrooms, and parking spaces for 17 cars and six trailers. It would all be located southeast of the bridge.

The current .1619-acre boat landing is owned by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Rosser said its size does not allow proper accommodations considering how much it is used.

The landing is being used as a lay down and storage area, and  will remain closed to the public until work on Morgan Ford Bridge is complete. Rosser said the bridge contractor will continue work through spring, and does not know when the landing will re-open.

The county acquired two lots adjacent to the VDGIF property to accommodate the expanded landing, which will be 0.8439 acres.

The county purchased one of those lots, a 0.58-acre parcel, from Alfred Chapman for $10,000 in July 2017. Chapman donated the other 0.0985-acres.

The expansion is estimated to cost about $500,000, Rosser said. That could be reduced if the county’s parks and recreation maintenance staff oversees construction.

Funding has not been secured, but the county hopes its recently-submitted DuPont Settlement application will be approved within a couple of months.

County Administrator Doug Stanley previously said the current landing is too small, in poor condition, and lacks amenities such as a hardened boat ramp. Boats are entered into water using shore-side rocks.

“It has a history of being heavily used by the public despite being an underdeveloped access point,” Rosser said.

How many people use the landing annually is unknown, but of Warren County’s 10 river access points, it is one of busiest. This may be due to its equal distance from the Riverton and Farmview Road landings, Rosser said. It is also the only public access site to the Shenandoah River’s main stem between Riverton and U.S. 50 in Clarke County.

Since no funding has been secured, a possible construction date is unknown.

“We would love to deliver this project to the community as soon as possible but it will be done as funding allows,” Rosser said.