Welcome to the home of the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation – a regional public-private partnership comprised of representatives from Albemarle, Augusta, and Nelson Counties and the City of Waynesboro, as well as several organizations and community leaders from throughout the Central Virginia region. The mission of the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation is the restoration, preservation, and interpretation of the Blue Ridge Tunnel, a long-abandoned historic railroad tunnel located in Central Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Blue Ridge Tunnel is located at Rockfish Gap, a natural low point on Afton Mountain in Central Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The eastern entrance is in Afton, in Nelson County, and the western entrance is in Augusta County near the City of Waynesboro. Interstate 64, Route 250, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive, the Appalachian Trail, and U.S. Bicycle Route 76 are all located in Rockfish Gap, directly over the historic railroad tunnel.
Originally constructed in the 1850s, this National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark will be professionally restored and carefully transformed into a unique recreational destination for all of Central Virginia. The project master plan calls for a trail through the Blue Ridge Tunnel, with two trailheads providing access from both sides of Afton Mountain, and (ultimately) connections from the Tunnel to adjacent recreational assets such as the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park, the Appalachian Trail, and U.S. Bicycle Route 76. This regional project will also support various community objectives relating to historic preservation and interpretation; economic development, eco-tourism, and heritage tourism; and the continued establishment of attractive quality-of-life amenities for nearby communities.
Phase I of the Blue Ridge Tunnel Project was completed in June 2015. Phase I encompassed construction of a parking area and trailhead near the old Afton Depot and the construction of a pedestrian and bicycle trail along the original rail bed for approximately 3400 feet to the East Portal of the 1850’s tunnel.
In June 2016, The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $1.3 million in funding for the Blue Ridge (Crozet) Tunnel restoration through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The CTB’s action provides full funding for the project, which includes rehabilitation of the historic train tunnel as well as parking and a walking-and-biking trail to its western portal near Waynesboro.
The TAP funding approved at the board’s meeting on June 14 includes $649,960 for Nelson County and another $649,960 for the city of Waynesboro.
These two matching grants cover the project’s second and third phases. A previous TAP grant allowed Nelson County to build a parking area and trail to the eastern portal near the community of Afton.
The Blue Ridge Tunnel opened in 1858 to allow rail access through Afton Mountain. The 4,273-foot passage took nearly nine years to construct and was the longest tunnel in the United States at the time. The Blue Ridge tunnel was taken out of service in 1944. Its restoration andreopening is a unique historic-preservation project that will also provide tourism and recreational opportunities.
The Transportation Alternatives Program is intended to help local sponsors fund community based projects that expand non-motorized travel choices and enhance the transportation experience by improving the cultural, historical and environmental aspects of the transportation infrastructure. The program does not fund traditional roadway projects or provide maintenance for these facilities. Instead it focuses on providing pedestrian and bicycle facilities, community improvements and mitigating the negative impacts of the highway system.
Access to the Blue Ridge Tunnel Is Prohibited During Construction
For the purposes of ensuring safety and eliminating liability, there is currently no public access to either the west portal or east portal (including no access into the Blue Ridge Tunnel itself) during the reconstruction phases of the tunnel. The construction zone is restricted to Authorized Personnel only. No Trespassing signs have been posted in the Phase 1 construction zone and have also been posted in the overall Blue Ridge Tunnel Project area, including Nelson and Augusta counties. Violators are subject to prosecution.