VDOT News - Hampton Roads



Nina Napolitano 757-956-3031


Sept. 30, 2019


JAMES CITY COUNTY - The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) welcomes the Ferryboat Powhatan to the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry fleet today. The new boat will improve capacity and reliability at the Commonwealth’s largest, state-run, 24-hour ferry operation.

The Powhatan can accommodate 70 vehicles and is replacing Ferryboat Virginia, which was built in 1936. Powhatan more than doubles the vehicle-carrying capacity of the Virginia.

Shipbuilders at VT Halter Marine, Inc. in Pascagoula, Mississippi began constructing the double-ended, steel hull ferryboat in December 2016. VDOT budgeted $23.4 million for the project, which came in $1.2 million under budget. The boat traveled from Mississippi to Virginia in late August, arriving after a weeklong trip at sea.

“Ferryboat Powhatan represents VDOT’s commitment to delivering multimodal transportation solutions that meet the unique needs of every region in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Ferries are a lifeline for locals, businesses and services on both sides of the James River, and we welcome the Ferryboat Powhatan as a part of our fleet.”

“The Powhatan will improve operations and capacity at the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich, P.E. “A modern ferry fleet allows VDOT to meet the current and future demand for reliable transportation between Surry and James City counties.”

The forerunner to the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry service began in 1925, when Albert Jester made the first automobile ferry crossing of the James River with the Captain John Smith. That ferry was 60-feet long and could carry 16 Model-T Fords.

VDOT took over ferry operations in 1945. The facility now staffs more than 90 employees and has an operating budget of approximately $12 million per year.

The modern ferry fleet consists of four vessels: Powhatan (2019), Pocahontas (1995), Williamsburg (1983) and Surry (1979). The Powhatan and Pocahontas can each carry up to 70 vehicles per trip. The Williamsburg and Surry can each carry up to 50 vehicles per trip. Former VDOT Ferryboat Virginia was purchased by a private ferry company in New Jersey.

“More than 900,000 vehicles-a-year rely on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry,” said VDOT Hampton Roads District Engineer Christopher Hall, P.E. “The addition of Ferryboat Powhatan helps ensure we can Keep Virginia Moving at this critical transportation facility.”

For more information about the history, schedule and operations of the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, visit VirginiaDOT.org.


Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Sept. 30, 2019