Stretch of Blue Ridge Parkway reopened after weeks-long closure

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ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ/WHSV) — UPDATE (Oct. 9):

WDBJ7 photo

The entire stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway is once again open, just as fall foliage season hits and traffic increases on the scenic roadway.

A stretch from milepost 106 to milepost 112 had been listed as "indefinitely closed" until damage to the roadway could be repaired.

At the beginning of September, the Federal Highway Administration deemed the section unsafe, saying dips in the roadway would cause cars to bottom out and be dangerous for motorcyclists. Barricades were put up, and it was closed off for weeks by the National Park Service.

In the meantime, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge worked to highlight unique stops along the 10-mile detour around the closure.

But as of October 9, the Blue Ridge Parkway announced that the stretch from mile post 106 to 112 reopened.

"We are happy to announce that with this opening we are now open from MP 0 all the way to 469. Happy Leaf Peeping," the parkway tweeted.

While this closure has been resolved, it highlighted the National Park Service’s struggle to keep on top of maintenance and repairs.

According to the National Park Service, the Blue Ridge Parkway has more than $508 million worth of deferred maintenance.

Deferred maintenance is the cost of repairs not performed when they should have been or were originally scheduled. That means it’s a waiting game to see when any repairs are able to fit into the budget.

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A stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Roanoke County will be closed indefinitely until roadway damage can be repaired.

It’s an inconvenience for commuters in the area who use the six-mile stretch between Milepost 106 and Milepost 112, but it’s also frustrating for visitors to the area and travelers planning to cover long spans of the parkway.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway is considered some of the premier roads for motorcyclists in the entire world. I have ridden it from south to north and now I am riding it from north to south,” a motorcyclist visiting the area said.

However, he had to quickly make a u-turn at Milepost 106 once he saw the road closure.

“It’s an annoyance. If you’re going to have this, there should be follow detour signs rather than just instructions up there,” he said.

The barricades went up at the beginning of September. The Federal Highway Administration deemed the section unsafe, saying dips in the roadway would cause cars to bottom out and be dangerous for motorcyclists

The National Park Service has since closed the roadway indefinitely.

Catherine Fox is the Vice President of Public Affairs for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. She said this time of year, many people visit the region to ride on the parkway and look at the changing leaves.

“Hearing the words 'indefinite' means a lot of unknowns. When will this road be fixed? When will the funds to be fixed? How long will it take to be fixed?” Fox said.

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge is finding its own answers by trying to highlight some of the unique stops along the parkway’s 10-mile detour.

“You know, there are places to eat, places to shop, there’s a brewery, there’s a farm, so there are a lot of things to do in that 10-mile detour,” Fox said.

It’s a way to ease frustrations as the uncertainty lingers.

“The problem is much larger than a six-mile closure and a four-mile loop,” Fox said.

This closure highlights the National Park Service’s struggle to keep on top of maintenance and repairs.

According to the National Park Service, the Blue Ridge Parkway has more than $508 million worth of deferred maintenance.

Deferred maintenance is the cost of repairs not performed when they should have been or were originally scheduled. That means it’s a waiting game to see when the road repairs in Roanoke County will fit into the budget.

“We hope that once the new budget is set we will hopefully have a plan in place to see what a timeline might look like,” Fox said.

Those who need to detour around this section of parkway are asked to take the following route:

  • Southbound Detour: Those travelling southbound from Parkway milepost 106 should take route 460 West to Route 24/Gus Nicks Blvd. East to the Parkway on-ramp.

  • Northbound Detour: Those travelling northbound from Parkway milepost 112 should take Route 24/Gus Nicks Blvd. West to route 460 East to the Parkway on-ramp.

Travelers are also encouraged to visit this website to learn more about the detour and stops along the way.

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