Construction progress

A construction progress meeting was conducted on Nov. 8 at Banister Lake. The turbidity curtain was installed to protect water quality during site grading, demolition and construction activities that include the new motorized boat ramp, courtesy pier and canoe/kayak hand launch. The site is closed to the public during construction from October-January, and trespassing is prohibited.

Work is progressing on the Banister Lake Boat Landing project, and earlier this month on Nov. 8, a project overview and construction progress meeting for the Banister Lake Boat Landing Project was conducted onsite with general contractor Dunavant Engineering and Construction, Inc., town of Halifax staff and B&B Consultants, Inc.

Halifax Town Council authorized approval of the competitive bid totaling $266,900 that was opened on Aug. 9.

Jimmy Epps, who provides engineering and contract administration services for the project, said the construction is approximately 33 percent complete at this point and is on schedule to finish substantial completion by Jan. 25, weather permitting.

During the first 30 days of construction, the site was cleared and graded with brush removed, erosion and soil measures installed including the deployment of the turbidity curtain along the lake shore.

The new boat ramp has been poured and the concrete stair-step launch for canoes and kayaks has been installed, according to Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy.

The old courtesy pier has been demolished, and the new pier pilings have been driven into the lake bed.

Paddlers, motorized boaters and outdoor sportsman who utilize the ramp will not be able to access the lake as the site will be closed to the public while under construction, and trespassing is strictly prohibited.

The boat ramp located off Highway 501 has been in use for over 40 years as a popular boating and fishing destination in addition to being a recognized attraction on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, but it was in need of significant rehabilitation, Espy said.

In December 2014, Halifax County transferred to the town of Halifax the parcel upon which the facilities were originally constructed in 1970 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).

Since that time, the town applied for funds to upgrade the boating facilities. To date, the town received grants from DGIF through their Boating Access to Localities Program, as well as being awarded funding from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, contributions from the South Boston Rotary Club, and most recently, a Dominion Environmental Stewardship Grant through the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA).

The Banister River is part of the Virginia Scenic Rivers System extending from Highway 29 in Pittsylvania County approximately 63.3 miles to the confluence with the Dan River in Halifax County.

Interest in kayaking/canoeing has grown significantly, and with the recent development of the Southern Virginia Wild Blueway (SVWB), this access site will experience higher demand from both motorized boat users and paddle sport water craft enthusiasts for fishing, wildlife viewing and related outdoor activities.

The SVWB consists of four rivers and two lakes spanning Halifax and Mecklenburg counties, connecting over 100 miles of navigable water and 1,200 miles of shoreline.

The new non-motorized boat launch will be an asset to the SVWB. Although this facility will be constructed as a single site on impounded water operating for “launch and retrieve” access, it will set the stage to connect future river corridor access development upstream at needed locations identified by DGIF and DCR in the 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plan.

A dedication event for the project will be scheduled to coincide with the town’s Earth Day Extravaganza Celebration in April 2017.