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Paw Paw Tunnel, MD - After several months of closure and limited public access, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park has reopened the towpath at mile 155 near the Paw Paw Tunnel following the removal of rock and stabilization of the area caused by a rock slide in January 2013.
Immediately following the rock slide work began to survey the area, including the completion of a thorough geotechnical analysis to ensure park staff could clear the debris safely and determine if any further stabilization work was needed. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park engineering and maintenance staff began work April 1 to remove the rock slide from the towpath and install rock fall protection fencing. In addition staff inserted steel rock pins into the shale to provide stabilization and attached crack monitors to facilitate ongoing monitoring of the area.
The geotechnical analysis was made possible by a donation from the Allegheny Trail Alliance. Regarding the donation, Linda McKenna Boxx, Allegheny Trail Alliance president and C&O Canal Trust Advisory Board member, stated, "There was an immediate need to take action. A break in the towpath would discourage many travelers from attempting the end-to-end trip." The Allegheny Trail Alliance is a coalition of seven trail organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania and western Maryland, building the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). The GAP is now connected to the 184.5 mile C & O Canal Towpath in Cumberland and provides a non-motorized, nearly level trail system between Washington, DC and Homestead, PA.
The completion of work and reopening of towpath comes at a crucial time for park visitors, as warmer weather means an increase in pedestrians and bicyclists using the towpath for recreation. "The National Park Service understands the importance of the towpath to local residents and businesses," stated Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt. "We're thrilled that visitors from near and far can resume planning for a hiking or biking trip to the C&O Canal this summer."
For additional information about the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park please visit the Park's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/chesapeakeandohiocanal or contact us at (301) 722-8226.