Blue Ridge Parkway closes section for Devil’s Courthouse Tunnel repairs
A small section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Milepost 420 (near Black Balsam Road) and Milepost 423 (at Hwy. 215), will be closed from Nov. 3 through May 2015.
During the closure, Devil’s Courthouse Overlook, located at Milepost 422, will be accessible by south by foot, bicycle or skis at Hwy. 215. The Art Loeb Trail, located at Milepost 421, will be accessible from the north at Black Balsam Road. Visitors venturing inside the closure should use extreme caution and watch for construction traffic.
The closure is being made in order to make repairs to the aging drainage system and concrete lining inside Devil’s Courthouse Tunnel. The work entails removing portions of the overhead concrete lining, requiring that the tunnel be sealed and inaccessible to any traffic during the project. The Devil’s Courthouse Tunnel was originally constructed in 1941.
Tunnels are considered to be a significant design feature of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Twenty-five of the 26 tunnels along the Parkway are located in North Carolina; the Parkway’s tunnels represent 36 percent of the entire National Park Service tunnel inventory. Tunnels along the Parkway were constructed to reduce excessive scarring that open cuts would entail. The stone masonry portals on most Parkway tunnels were not part of the original construction, but rather added later in the 1950s and 1960s.