Skyline Drive tunnel reopens after being closed for a few days

Mary’s Rock Tunnel along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park reopened Friday.

The park announced a two-week closure for the tunnel that started May 4 so that crews could remove loose rock that may have been lingering from a rock fall that occurred in March.

Park Public Affairs Officer Karen Beck-Herzog said, “Nobody knew exactly how long the work would take, so obviously we were hoping it would take less than two weeks.”

The park will now look to prevent any further damage to the roadway paving over a stretch of road near the tunnel. Beck-Herzog mentioned that the park will be bringing in an “outside party” to complete the work.

“What happened was, the larger of the two rock falls in March … caused a little bit of gouging,” Beck-Herzog said.

This bit of infrastructure maintenance is not expected to cause any further closings along this stretch of the drive. Beck-Herzog said, “We’ll do one lane, alternating traffic.

“From a visitor’s standpoint … it’s going to have a very minimal effect to people’s visits here.”

Beck-Herzog said that the park is not sure when the paving will begin, but noted that it is not expected to take long.

The reopening of the tunnel is conveniently timed for both Mother’s Day Weekend and the park’s annual Wildflower Weekend, which are two major drivers of traffic to the park, Beck-Herzog said.

Beck-Herzog added, “We’re expecting some good weather. The park staff is thrilled to be able to have opening up the tunnel [Friday night].”

In fact, for Wildflower Weekend, park visitors will have the opportunity to learn some new home gardening tips.

Naturalist Jack Price, a certified Virginia master gardener, will be at the Byrd Visitor’s Center at 11 a.m. May 9 to talk “about creating … a wildlife habitat for home gardeners,” Beck-Herzog noted.

Beck-Herzog added, “He’ll be teaching people about native plants that are proven winners for home gardeners.”

More information about Wildflower Weekend can be found at: http://1.usa.gov/1zRMns2.

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