Archived Outdoors

Parkway prepares for major maintenance projects

The Laurel Fork Bridge slated for replacement was built in 1939. NPS photo The Laurel Fork Bridge slated for replacement was built in 1939. NPS photo

The Great American Outdoors Act will give the Blue Ridge Parkway $127 million for projects to address its deferred maintenance backlog of more than $500 million. 

The money will pay for a $98 million repaving project on 75 miles of the 469-mile road as well as a $29 million bridge replacement in Ashe County. Once completed, the projects will eliminate more than $115.6 million of deferred maintenance. They’re expected to support more than 1,600 jobs and contribute $348 million to the nation’s economy. 

Set to last three years, the repaving and rehabilitation project will start at milepost 229.6, just north of Doughton Park, and end near Grandfather Mountain at milepost 305.1. It will include repair and replacement of drainage structures, curbs, walks, shoulders, guardrails, overlooks and signage, with work phased to a staggered series of closures that will allow continuous access to recreation areas and visitor amenities within the construction zone. 

The Laurel Fork Bridge, located at milepost 248.8, was built in 1939 and is 546 feet long and 28 feet wide. Replacing it will take two years and require a full closure with a detour. 

Funding comes from the GAOA’s National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund created to address extensive maintenance backlogs. Supported by revenue from energy development, the fund provides up to $1.3 billion annually for five years. 

The projects will be jointly managed by the National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration. Contracts for both have been awarded, and construction timelines with detour locations are being finalized. For updated detour and closures information, visit nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm.  

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