Pavement operations apply a new and improved asphalt surface on the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)
Numerous areas of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) in North Carolina will begin getting extensive pavement preservation treatment in the coming days.
The Ashe Post & Times, in the northwest North Carolina High Country, reported April 15 that many parkway overlooks, parking areas, and roadside picnic stops from milepost 294 to 384 (between Blowing Rock and Asheville), and milepost 394 to 443 (south of Asheville to Balsam Gap), will be receiving new and improved asphalt surfaces during 2023.
The BRP is the National Park Service's (NPS) most popular attraction, and America's longest linear park, with a length of 469 mi. through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties. The Parkway manages a total of 554 mi. of paved road, including the iconic mainline two-lane highway.
In the Tarheel State, the roadway primarily runs 252 mi. along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a major chain of peaks that are part of the Appalachian Range.
Asphalt Work to Start in Late April
The paving work is expected to begin the last week of April and continue through the fall of 2023 in multiple locations within the identified sections. Once under way, park visitors and neighbors can expect intermittent, short-term closures at individual sites with short, single-lane closures of the mainline road as needed.
Pavement preservation applies a new surface to existing asphalt, helping slow deterioration, and allowing the road maintenance budgets to go further, according to the BRP.
All pavement deteriorates over time and the parkway has many demands on its road surface as a heavily traveled, high elevation road subject to seasonal freeze-thaw cycles in winter and solar radiation in summer. Approximately 90 percent of the Parkway's maintenance backlog is attributed to maintenance needed on paved roads and areas in the park.
The Post & Times noted that the project work gets under way the week of April 24, at Bass Lake Drive, off U.S. Highway 221 in the town of Blowing Rock. Visitors can expect Bass Lake Drive and the adjacent parking area to be closed throughout the week. The nearby Moses H. Cone Memorial Park carriage trail system will remain open for use, but parking will not be available at nearby Bass Lake while paving operations are underway.
Around May 8, and weather permitting, the Cone Manor House (milepost 294) parking lot will be closed for paving. On the days that paving is under way, all Manor House operations, including the America's National Park bookstore and Southern Highland Craft Guild retail store, also will be closed.
As the paving season progresses this year, operations will move to other locations between milepost 294 to 384, and milepost 394 to 443. Project locations for pavement preservation work will be updated regularly on the road status page on the BRP's website.
Multiple road projects are under way and planned this season on the Parkway, meaning that visitors and neighbors must exercise caution and obey closures.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the largest designed landscapes in the country, providing visitors with a wide variety of opportunities to experience southern Appalachian nature, history, and culture.
The park's drive-a-while, stop-a-while design enhances its multitude of experiences, from driving the scenic route, stopping to take in its often-breathtaking mountain views, hiking a trail, or taking in a concert or ranger program, meaning Parkway officials constantly monitor the road surface to keep it safe for everyone to enjoy.
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