Blue Ridge Parkway Crack Closed To Viewing

10:41 AM, Jul 27, 2013   |    comments
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A large crack has opened in the Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Tanbark Tunnel at Milepost 374.5. Bill Sanders/ / /
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  • Asheville, NC (ACT) -- The show's over, folks.

    Rangers issued a complete closure Friday to all users on a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of Asheville because of a slope failure in the roadway and construction equipment that could pose a safety risk to the public.

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    The parkway section between Milepost 376 at Ox Creek Road and Milepost 355 at N.C. 128 near Mount Mitchell State Park has been closed to motor vehicle traffic since July 12. That is when a giant crack down the center line was first noticed at MP 374 near Tanbark Ridge Tunnel.

    The crack, which has been causing the northbound side of the parkway to drop away, is now about 300 feet long, several inches wide and several feet deep. A companion crack along the shoulder on the road's slope side is more than 100 feet long and a foot wide in places.

    The crack has draw swarms of spectators who have been walking or cycling in 2 miles from the closure at MP 376.

    "It's got to the point where we're moving a lot of equipment, and we've had some near misses. It's getting too dangerous," said Tim Francis, the parkway's Pisgah District Ranger. "We're asking if folks would just bear with us until we can get this open."

    Until Friday, pedestrians and bicyclists had been allowed to go behind the closure gates, but Francis said no one is allowed behind the barricades until further notice.

    The Federal Highway Administration has been at the site of the crack since Tuesday drilling core samples to find the cause of the slope failure.

    Mike Molling, parkway chief of maintenance and engineering, said construction crews are trying to get a temporary fix in place to partially open the road for travel between Asheville and Mount Mitchell.

    "The short-term, temporary repair will start next week, with the idea to take out the compromised material, establish a temporary road on the uphill side of road that will allow us to be open by Labor Day," Molling said.

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