Construction started first on several projects at neighboring Jamestown Settlement. But, work on the island is going steady now.
Parking -- The new Neck of Land parking area holds 150 cars and has a short walking trail.
A loop shuttle, which provides bus transportation between the two Jamestowns, will make stops there as well. Those who shuttle to Jamestown from the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center will get off at Neck of Land, then hop on the loop shuttle for eithe Jamestown.
There are no plans to limit vehicle access to Historic Jamestowne on typical days, though that could happen during major events such as Anniversary Weekend in May 2007 when representatives of the White House and British royal family are expected, Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst explained this week during a tour of Historic Jamestowne facilities.
The Neck of Land work is part of $8 million in transportation spending by Congress at Jamestown that also includes the shuttle and parking lot improvements.
Visitor Center -- On the island, modular units comprise a small visitor center. A $7 million, 18,000-square-foot Visitor Center should be finished by November.
Construction faced its own timing challenge, based on a clutch of bald eagles nesting nearby. Mating season for the eagles runs five months, so crews had a limited amount of time to bring heavy equipment onto the island without disturbing the birds.
The exterior of the building is basically complete. Work continues on the parking lot and some of the cement work.
Inside there will be an exhibit area and small, circular theater. The Park Service is billing the movie as an "immersion" experience, joining the adjacent exhibit in telling the 92-year history of Jamestown as the first capital of Virginia. The focus will be on the "coming together of three cultures," Litterst said, referring to the English, the Indians and the Africans.
Classrooms will be offered to the various school groups that visit Historic Jamestowne.
Out the back door is a covered porch for groups to get a briefing before moving on.
Then it's across a new walking bridge that crosses the swamp about 100 yards from the current walking bridge.
Visitors using the bridge will have their attention focused on the church tower and fort. Designers are counting on piquing their curiosity during the walk across the bridge. The natural inclination to walk to the right at the end of the bridge leads to sites on the island that tend to follow the chronology of the development of Jamestown.
Research -- Work is winding up on the $4.2 million Historic Jamestowne Research Center, a two-story facility with two wings that will provide storage space under one roof for the collections of both the Park Service and APVA. The building will be closed to the public.
The Park Service gets its section of the building in a couple of weeks and will begin to move in 1.1 million artifacts. They were moved out of the old Visitor Center when it famously flooded during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
Archaearium -- Perhaps the signature building on the island will be the archaearium, a $5 million building that will incorporate virtual reality technology for visitors.
The building is being built on pillars to give the image that it's floating over the landscape. It's built over the foundations of the last statehouse on the island. There will be two "holes" in the floor where visitors can look through glass and see the actual foundation work.