Blue Ridge Parkway officials announce two tunnel repair projects occurring this winter to the north and south of the Asheville corridor. Both closures will be in effect from December 1, 2015 through spring of 2016. Repairs to Tanbark Tunnel at Milepost 374.4 will require a closure from Milepost 364.1 at Craggy Dome Parking Overlook to Milepost 375.6 at Ox Creek Road. Repairs to the Buck Springs Tunnel at Milepost 407.3 will require a closure from Milepost 405.5 at NC Route 151 to Milepost 408.8 near Mt. Pisgah. Both lanes of the motor road in these sections will be closed to all visitor traffic, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Mark Woods states, “We recognize the popularity of these areas for local communities and the traveling public and we regret any inconveniences. However, just as it’s important to take care of regular maintenance on your home, the historic tunnels on the Parkway require maintenance from time to time. The public’s cooperation and patience during these important projects is much appreciated.”
The two projects will accomplish repairs to deteriorating concrete tunnel liners, drainage systems, stone tunnel portals and the road surface. The Blue Ridge Parkway is recognized internationally as an example of landscape design achievement and Parkway tunnels are a significant design feature along the historic route. Tunnels along the Parkway were often constructed to reduce excessive scarring that open cuts would entail, enabling the Parkway to cross through ridges in the interest of maintaining the most desirable route location. Over time Parkway tunnels have become a signature design feature and part of the Parkway’s cultural history.
Alternate routes for both closure areas are available. Mt. Mitchell State Park will remain open and accessible from the northern approach along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 330, near Spruce Pine, NC, or from state Route 80. Additionally, as there are several popular trails in the affected area, visitors should note that trails in the closed sections will not be accessible via the Parkway during the closures.
For regular Parkway updates on this and other projects follow the Blue Ridge Parkway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BlueRidgeNPS; or for real-time road closure information visit maps.nps.gov/blri/road-closures/.