The Blue Ridge Parkway. Archive photo by Hank Shell/Carolina Public Press

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Press releases from the Blue Ridge Parkway:

Blue Ridge Parkway officials announce the closure of a small section of motor road between existing gates at Milepost 420.3 near U.S. Forest Service Road 816 (Black Balsam Road) and Milepost 423.3 at N.C. Highway 215. Both lanes of the motor road in that section will be closed to all visitors beginning Nov. 3, 2014, through May 2015.

During this closure, Devil’s Courthouse Overlook at Milepost 422.4 will be accessible from the south by foot, bicycle or skis at N.C. Highway 215. The Art Loeb Trail crossing at Milepost 421.2 will be accessible from the north at Black Balsam Road. Visitors inside the closure are encouraged to use extreme caution and watch for construction related traffic also in the area.

Devil’s Courthouse Tunnel was originally constructed in 1941. This project will make repairs to the aging drainage system and concrete lining inside the tunnel. The work requires that portions of the overhead concrete lining be removed, creating potentially hazardous conditions for visitors that require a full road closure. The tunnel will be sealed and inaccessible to any traffic during this project.

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. Twenty-five of the twenty-six tunnels along the Parkway are in North Carolina, with all Parkway tunnels representing 36 percent of the entire National Park Service tunnel inventory. 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. The distinctive stone masonry portals on most Parkway tunnels were generally not part of the original construction, added later in the 1950s and 1960s.

Blue Ridge Parkway officials also announced the final phase of roadwork in a one-mile section of Parkway, commonly known as Ice Rock near Alligator Back Parking Area. Both lanes of the motor road will be closed to all visitors from Milepost 241 to Milepost 243.5 beginning Nov. 3, 2014, through mid-April 2015.

The final phase of the Historic Stone Guardwall Reconstruction Project began this spring utilizing a one-lane closure through the area. Prior to the full traffic closure, 24 hour, single-lane traffic closure through the project work zone will continue.The project goal is the restoration of the structural integrity and historic appearance of this important cultural resource.

With the exception of foot traffic on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the motor road will be closed to all visitors. Detour traffic signage will direct Parkway visitors around the closure area via U.S. Highways 18 and 21. Access to Doughton Park following the regular seasonal operating schedule will remain open from the north via the Parkway.

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/.

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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