Park to close section of Skyline Drive

Starting May 4, Shenandoah National Park will be closing a 1.3-mile section of Skyline Drive for two weeks to perform maintenance.

The section is located at the southern end of Mary’s Rock Tunnel, between the Hazel Mountain Overlook and the Panorama Comfort Station.

A wider, 10-mile section of this area was closed on March 24 when the park — in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration — inspected the tunnel following what the park called a “significant rock fall.”

Park Public Affairs Officer Karen Beck-Herzog said the maintenance is based on feedback and recommendations the park received from the Federal Highway Administration.

“There’s not imminent danger, and so the idea is that a contractor will come in and essentially look for what might come loose … and then remove those [rocks],” Beck-Herzog added.

Although Beck-Herzog said that she could not name a contractor at this time, she added the park’s contract or cost in this situation does not exceed $100,000.

The maintenance is expected to take two weeks to complete.

Beck-Herzog said, “We’re much farther into the season now, so what we want to be able to do is to maintain as much of Skyline Drive as open as possible.”

In addition, Beck-Herzog said that the closure will not affect trail access or access to the Hazel Mountain Overlook.

While this closure does not include any of the park entrances along that stretch, Beck-Herzog noted that residents traveling from various localities will have to navigate some detours.

“People coming down from Front Royal will be able to come all the way down to the Thornton Gap entrance,” she said, “They would then have to exit [at Thornton Gap].”

To help visitors with the detour, Beck-Herzog explained that the park will have signs along the drive, information on social media and maps that will be handed out at entrance stations.

“If you think about it, people getting off at Route 211 are going to have to go all the way down to Route 73 to get back on to Skyline Drive,” Beck-Herzog said.

Between area residents and out-of-town visitors, Beck-Herzog added, “We want to give people as much notice as we can.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com