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Contact: Pete Peterson, 301-767-3702
Potomac, MD- The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) will temporarily close the Olmsted Island Trail and Great Falls Overlook in early 2017 for repairs that will improve our visitor and staff safety and better protect park resources. Work on the bridge and overlook is expected to begin in mid-to-late February. We anticipate bridge construction to last 90-120 days with completion and re-opening in late June. Future press releases will communicate the exact closure date and construction progress. Completion of construction may be impacted by weather conditions.
Once complete, the project will provide a safe, reliable, and enjoyable trail to view Great Falls on the Potomac River. Restoration, repair and refinishing work includes bridge railing, bridge decking and one concrete foundation. Noticeable improvements will be sturdier bridge railings and a smoother concrete walking surface.
Park natural resource managers have developed measures to protect the delicate ecosystem of Olmsted Island. This project will be conducted in full compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and additional park regulations.
During construction, the C&O Canal encourages visitors to take advantage of the alternate views of the Potomac on the Maryland side that including Mather Gorge, Conn Island, and the Washington Aqueduct. Full access to all hiking trails, including the River Trail, all sections of the Billy Goat Trail, and the Goldmine Trail offer great outdoor opportunities for adventure. The Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center will offer talks and programs in alternate locations while construction is ongoing. Unimpeded views of the Great Falls will continue to be enjoyed at Great Falls Park on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. We encourage visitors to plan visits to Great Falls Park well ahead, especially on weekends, as the park often sustains high visitation and wait times.
For more information on the project and Great Falls, please visit our website at: https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/greatfallstavernvisitorcenter.htm or visit our Facebook page. Be sure and tag your park posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with #candocanal, #greatfalls and #towpath.