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Contact: Autumn Cook, 304-702-5684
HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — The National Park Service (NPS) is working to understand the full extent of the damage and the options to repair the Goodloe E. Byron Memorial Pedestrian Walkway (footbridge) across the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry. Planning efforts to repair the footbridge are underway. Repairs will take time given the complexity and safety issues associated with its location over a river and the fact that it is attached to an active railroad.
“The National Park Service is committed to finding a solution to restore access across the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park,” acting National Capital Area Director Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini said. “We know the local communities and visitors to the park rely on the footbridge daily, and we are eager to have it back in place.”
Providing safe access for visitors and preserving the historic resources of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (NHP) are top priorities. While the timeline for re-opening the bridge is unknown, the NPS understands the importance of access to the footbridge for hikers and visitors to Harpers Ferry NHP, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The NPS is considering options for a shuttle service that would transport hikers and visitors around the footbridge closure until repairs can be completed.
Although funding for the repairs has not yet been determined, the NPS has damage assessment and restoration authorities that allow the NPS to seek damages for injured resources. These authorities also allow the NPS to retain those damages to restore or replace the injured resource. Working cooperatively with the responsible party can expedite the assessment and repairs, thus the NPS has been in contact with CSX with this as a goal.
The NPS will post updates about the footbridge, as they become available, online at go.nps.gov/HAFEfootbridge.
In the early morning of Dec. 21, 2019, multiple cars of a train owned by CSX derailed from a railroad bridge crossing the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry. The derailment damaged a portion of the pedestrian footbridge, which is attached to the railroad bridge, preventing access across the Potomac River. Since the derailment the NPS has been communicating with CSX to determine next steps.
Last updated: March 2, 2020