Discussing current issues in engineering
Dedicated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in Rockfish Gap, VA, the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel conservation project is almost complete after 18 years of restoration efforts.
The Blue Ridge Tunnel was the longest railroad tunnel in North America at the time of its completion in 1858, traversing nearly one mile through the Afton Mountain connecting Nelson and Augusta county. The tunnel was originally built using only hand drills and black powder and allowed efficient travel Westward from the Eastern United States.
With restoration funding provided by state grants and Federal transportation funds, the tunnel will offer 6,000 feet of pedestrian trails for hikers, walkers, and bicyclists while also linking into existing trail systems. Woolpert architecture, engineering, and geospatial firm was contracted in 2006 to provide planning, engineering, and construction plans for the design of the trails and restoration of the tunnel.
Overall, the tunnel is 16 feet wide and 20 feet high with an exposed rock interior and located 500 feet beneath the Rockfish Gap ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In October the restoration of the tunnel won a Construction and Design award by the Coalition for Recreational Trails and in 2015 the project also won the Central Virginia Chapter of WTS International’s Innovative Transportation Solutions Award.
In September, the tunnel was officially dedicated by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and while the tunnel and trails are still under active construction, the public can expect the Blue Ridge Tunnel to open at the end of 2020. To learn more about the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel you can visit the Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation’s website here.
Colman Engineering, PLC
A professional engineering firm located in Harrisonburg, VA