The Blue Ridge Parkway manages 554 miles of paved road, including the iconic 469-mile-long main parkway road. All pavement deteriorates over time. The parkway has many demands on its road surface. It is a heavily traveled, high elevation road subject to seasonal freeze-thaw cycles in winter and solar radiation in summer.
Funding for road systems in national parks comes from national gas tax dollars through the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP). The parkway receives approximately $7 to $10 million per year for paving, bridge, and tunnel repair projects through a competitive process with other national parks in the southeast region of the National Park Service. However, the parkway has about $500 million in deferred maintenance costs. Approximately 90% of these costs are due to maintenance needed on paved roads in the park.
What is Pavement Preservation?
In order to more strategically invest funding for road projects, the parkway, along with parks throughout the National Park Service, has identified road sections eligible for a strategy known as pavement preservation. Pavement preservation applies a new road surface to sections in good condition, helping slow deterioration and allowing the road maintenance budgets to go further.
2019 Pavement Preservation Projects
Approximately 115 miles of parkway qualify for pavement preservation treatment this year beginning in May 2019, and continuing through November 2019. Work will be on hold during the high traffic month of October.
These sections of parkway are scheduled for pavement preservation work in 2019:
Milepost 175 to 217: Mabry Mill to Fancy Gap (42 miles)
Milepost 241 to 262, Doughton Park to West Jefferson area (21 miles)
Milepost 292 to 345, Cone Memorial Park to NC Minerals Museum area (53 miles)
Other sections that are not suitable for pavement preservation will be prioritized and targeted for full repaving as funds allow.
What to Expect
Work zones will be managed using one-lane traffic control with flaggers and a pilot vehicle under reduced speed limits.
Observe reduced speed limits in work zones, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to maintain safe operations and allow for proper curing of pavement
Anticipate loose gravel on the road surface during pavement curing times.
Bicyclists and motorcyclists are asked to exercise extreme caution in project areas as loose gravel on top of the paved surface could result in loss of control.