ROANOKE, Va. – No matter what time of year it is, the Blue Ridge Parkway draws visitors from both near and far.
Visitors come by to go bike riding and hiking, and others like parkway visitor Keith Simon enjoy fishing.
“I like fishing, but no, just trail walking out in nature, just enjoying nature,” Simon said.
Simon was able to enjoy his fishing spot near the Roanoke River Bridge after over a year of detours and closures – which have hurt the region’s tourism efforts.
“We’re very grateful that Congress funded what was needed in order to keep the bridges and various sections up and running and paved,” Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge President Landon Howard said. “And that is something that has to happen for the safety of our visitors.”
The scenic bridge was closed so crews could repair bridge piers, fix drainage, and more.
“There are many other things to do on the parkway that will make it easier to access, so we’re excited about getting it totally open,” Howard said.
The project was scheduled to be completed back in June but leaders faced delays.
But now, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge is ready to unveil the finished product.
“It’s going to be like a brand new, grand opening, ribbon cutting opportunity, and I think we’re going to see huge visitation as a result of that,” Howard said.
“It just opens up opportunities for people to get out more, you know dealing with Covid, it’s time to get out, walk the trails, fish, sightsee,” Simon said.
The re-opening comes in time for summer travel and fall when the foliage draws in tourists, which is when the parkway is the busiest.
“People travel all around just to come and see the little valley that we’re in, that’s a beautiful place,” Simon said. “I think people will come around and check it out.”
The parkway still has a closure on Bent Mountain due to a slope failure, but the hope is that it will be fully open by the end of September.