Sunday, November 13, 2011

Transportation network could threaten Blue Ridge Parkway

This past Thursday the Blue Ridge Parkway concluded their series of meetings regarding their proposed General Management Plan. The plan will guide resource management at the park for the next twenty years.

In essence, the Blue Ridge Parkway's preferred plan seeks to reinvest in the parkway's aging infrastructure, update inadequate visitor services and facilities, and protect a biologically diverse natural environment. Some of these plans will have an impact on hikers and campers.

A recent press release from National Parks Conservation Association highlighted some interesting thoughts and statistics:

According to a recent study by the UNC Charlotte Center for Applied Geographic Information Science, since 1976, western North Carolina’s mountains have experienced a 42% increase in population and a 568% increase in land development. Though the growth has temporarily slowed with the economic downturn, the Parkway’s relationship to the regional transportation network is currently at a crossroads. Through the general management plan, the Parkway can preserve its integrity as a self-contained, scenic motorway separate from the regional highway system, rather than allow piecemeal road developments to transform the historic parkway into a commuter traffic route.

“Throughout the Parkway’s 75 year history, most of the 199 secondary roads that cross at-grade have not had a significant impact on the park, as they have been largely rural and lightly travelled. Growing pressure for secondary road improvements could jeopardize the future of the park in the form of adjacent land development and increased non-visitor commuter traffic along the Parkway," said NPCA Program Manager Chris Watson.

You can read the entire press release here.

Public comments on the General Management Plan will be accepted through December 16th. For more information, please click here.


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