Today at 12:00 noon ET, the National Park Service opened the last closed stretch of the scenic roadway near Asheville, NC from MP 399 at Bad Fork Valley Overlook to MP 405.5 near NC Route 151. This section of the Parkway had been closed since October 2009 because of a potential rock slide. Only one lane has opened, but the Parkway can now be travelled from end to end again, detour free. A traffic light will help control the flow of traffic.
During the construction, Parkway travelers had to take a 40 minute detour to get around the unsafe area. Both lanes of this area are scheduled to be open around the beginning of September, just in time for Labor Day weekend. This is especially helpful for travel during the fall leaf season which attracts hundreds of thousands of sight-seers each year. In the Blue Ridge region, peak fall color activity occurs in early October.
This year has been a difficult one for Parkway travelers. Following a Christmas Day ice storm in 2009, most of the roadway in North Carolina had been closed. Contractors and volunteers have worked diligently for half of 2010 to clean up debris, fallen trees, and potential rockslides. Clean-up will continue for months along the roadside, but maintenance officials only foresee occasional traffic delays.
Because of the 2009 ice storm, potential rockslides, and various construction projects preparing for the 75th Anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is the first time that the Parkway has been open for uninterrupted travel in 18 months. It will be nice for Parkway visitors to have all 469 miles open for travel again.
The Parkway is a beautiful place to spend your summer but it’s not like most other roads so take some time and precautions while driving. Slow down and enjoy the view, use the overlooks to let traffic that may back up behind you get by. And as we often tell visitors, enjoy the view but watch the road.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States noted for its scenic beauty. The Parkway winds for 469.1 miles (755 km) from the southern terminus of Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive in Virginia to U.S. 441 at Oconaluftee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC. It runs through the famous Blue Ridge Mountains, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. There is no fee for using the Blue Ridge Parkway.