Blue Ridge Parkway announces 2021 pavement preservation work
The National Park Service announced this week that over 80 overlooks and parking areas and five picnic areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia will be resurfaced as part of the park’s pavement preservation program.
The project begins this week and will continue throughout the summer and early fall.
The paving project will take place from Afton Gap at Milepost 0 to the Blue Ridge Music Center at Milepost 213. The contractor will start overlay paving work at the northernmost sections of the Parkway and proceed south, and individual sites will close only while work is occurring. Work at each overlook is expected to last only a few days while the larger parking areas and picnic areas will last a bit longer. The picnic areas that will be paved are at Humpback Rocks (Milepost 8.5), Peaks of Otter (Milepost 85.6), Smart View (Milepost 154.5), Rocky Knob (Milepost 169), and Groundhog Mountain (Milepost 188.8).
“This summer’s pavement preservation project takes care of key features along the Virginia sections of the Parkway. Visitors have enjoyed the Parkway’s overlooks and picnic areas for generations,” said Acting Superintendent Alexa Viets. “We are pleased to bring these areas into better condition with a project that is anticipated to move quickly and should present only minor inconveniences to park visitors.”
As with any paving project, motorists and park users must exercise caution. In the interest of visitor safety, park visitors are asked to expect short duration, single-lane closures at overlook, parking area and picnic area entrances while work at those sites is occurring.
The Blue Ridge Parkway inventory of paved roads includes bridges, tunnels, parking areas, spur roads, service roads, campground and picnic area roads, and the 469-mile Parkway motor route itself. Given the large inventory of paved surfaces along the Parkway, and in order to effectively invest available funding, the pavement preservation strategy focuses on keeping the good sections good and returning fair sections to good condition.
Pavement preservation is becoming a regular road maintenance strategy in national parks. Studies find that for each dollar spent on pavement preservation between $6 and $10 in future pavement rehabilitation costs are saved. Funding for road maintenance in national parks, including the Parkway, comes in large part from the Highway Trust Fund, which is derived from a federal gas tax managed by the Federal Highway Administration.