67ºF

Local communities push for park funding after Blue Ridge Parkway closure

'If that happens again, is the repair funding going to be in place?'

ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke City Council is taking action to make sure the Blue Ridge Parkway doesn't have to shut down for repairs.

The 6-mile stretch of the parkway that runs through Bedford and Roanoke counties just reopened - after it was shut down earlier this fall because of hazardous road conditions.

Although it's back open, Catherine Fox, from Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge, still has concerns.

"Is that going to happen again? If that happens again, is the repair funding going to be in place?" Fox said.

With nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance at all national parks and more than $508 million in deferred maintenance on the parkway alone, Roanoke City is taking a stand.

The City Council passed a new resolution that supports immediate funding for repairs on the parkway, asks to reopen the Roanoke Mountain 4-mile loop and supports the proposed Restore Our Parks Act. That legislation would take existing government revenue and allocate it to the National Park Service to meet critical needs.

Fox said parkway funding would protect the top tourist attraction in this region and the economy.

"Our efforts are continually building on this region and its assets and not thinking about ways to go around an asset because there's a potential closure," Fox said.

The city's not alone. Vinton was the first to adopt the same resolution. Fox expects Boones Mill, Botetourt County, Franklin County and Roanoke County to do the same.

"This resolution is to say: 'We need to band together to let them know we support their efforts. We understand we don't have the funding. How can we help them get the funding?'"

Once other communities pass this resolution, the plan is to take their message to Congress and push for park funding.


About the Author: