Structural engineers have been called in to assess a 21-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway that was closed down the other day due to the appearance of cracks in the pavement.
For the time-being the Parkway from Milepost 376 at Ox Creek Road to Milepost 355 at Mount Mitchell State Park is closed. A detour route is available that directs traffic from Asheville, North Carolina, along Interstate 40 to U.S. Route 221, back to the Parkway at Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and alternately from Spruce Pine south to Asheville via U.S. Route 221 and Interstate 40.
Park officials say the closure was necessary due to "significant structural damage to a section of the motor road and related shoulder areas at Milepost 374.5 caused by recent, prolonged heavy rains."
"Federal Highway Administration engineers have been called in to assist park managers in determining the extent of the damage and will make recommendations for necessary repairs. The Parkway will release additional information once a construction and repair schedule is established," the release said.
Currently, pedestrians and bicyclists are allowed use of the closed area; however, once construction begins, or if conditions change, the area will be closed to all visitor access. Mt. Mitchell State Park will remain open and accessible from the northern approach along the Blue Ridge Parkway from Milepost 330, at Spruce Pine, North Carolina, or from state Route 80.
The Craggy Gardens Visitor Center and Picnic Area, at Milepost 364, will remain closed for the duration of the repair.