Construction and Design

 

Blue Ridge Tunnel Rehabilitation & Trail Project

The Blue Ridge Tunnel interior, West looking East

The Blue Ridge Tunnel was constructed between 1850 and 1858 beneath Rockfish Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia. The tunnel is 4,273-feet-long and approximately 700 feet below the surface at its deepest point. It was originally constructed to move goods and people back and forth from the coastal plain to the Piedmont, Shenandoah Valley and beyond.

The Blue Ridge Tunnel was constructed between 1850 and 1858 beneath Rockfish Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia. The tunnel is 4,273-feet-long and approximately 700 feet below the surface at its deepest point. It was originally constructed to move goods and people back and forth from the coastal plain to the Piedmont, Shenandoah Valley and beyond.

In 1944, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway replaced the 86-year-old Blue Ridge Tunnel with an adjacent tunnel at a slightly lower elevation that could accommodate larger locomotives. In the 1950’s, the Dixie Bottled Gas Corporation built massive concrete bulkheads in the old tunnel with the intent to store propane in the chamber created between the bulkheads. The venture was unsuccessful. The bulkheads created a barrier for walking through the entire tunnel, which sat vacant, unused and reclaimed by nature. That is, until Nelson County envisioned the passage as a major recreational and historical amenity; an economic initiative that will further strengthen the area’s thriving recreation and tourism industry.

In 2001 Nelson County undertook the project that resulted in restoration of the historic tunnel, including plans for the tunnel to become an outdoor public trail. The county acquired the tunnel in 2007 from CSX Inc. and in 2013 purchased easements and land to construct the project’s eastern trail in Nelson County and the western trail in Augusta County. The tunnel project was completed in three phases: eastern trail and parking lot, tunnel restoration and western trail and parking lot. Federal and state grant funding, like RTP, and local funding from Nelson County enabled the tunnel project to be completed and open to the public in 2020.

The total trail length is 2.25 miles and there are parking lots at both the east and west. Trail width is 10 ft. Cross Slope 1-2% for the entire trail.

 


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2018: Ouachita National Recreation Trail Shelters - Arkansas and Oklahoma

2017: Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area - Pennsylvania

2016: Kanab Creek OHV Bridge - Utah

2015: Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point Trail Project - Colorado

2015: Joanna Trail Project - Missouri

2014: Abbott Motocross Park - Nebraska

2014: Millersburg Historic Park and Trailhead - Michigan

2013: East and West Twin Creek Bridges - Michigan

2012: Chattahoochee Nature Trails - Florida

2012: Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway - Nevada

2011: Iron Range OHV Recreation Area - Minnesota

2010: Agassiz Recreational Trail - Minnesota

2009: Sam Houston Multiple-Use Trail - Texas

2008: Wanoga Snopark Shelter - Oregon

2007: Potato Knob Trail at Holly River State Park - West Virginia

2006: County Line Acres Bikeway - Ohio

2006: Upper Waiakea ATV/Dirt Bike Park - Hawaii

2006: Indian Canyon Trailhead - California

2005: Red Creek Bridge - Michigan

2005: MKT Trailhead Project - Missouri

2005: River Bluff Trail Project - Indiana

2004: Diana Bend Conservation Area Trail Project - Missouri

2004: Sweetser Switch Trail Project - Indiana

2003: Jane Addams Trail - Illinois

2003: Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Area - West Virginia

2003: Ten Mile Snopark Facilities - Oregon