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.
The project’s planning and design process and master plan were completed between 2003 and 2008; and more recently, construction drawings for the tunnel restoration, trail, trailheads, and other amenities have been completed. As a result of Federal/State funds being awarded to Nelson County in July 2013 through the “Transportation Alternatives” program, the project will now transition from planning phase to implementation phase. The $749,149 award from VDOT will provide funding for Phase I of the tunnel’s restoration, with construction expected to begin as early as Autumn 2013.
Because additional public funding is always uncertain, the Tunnel Foundation shares responsibility for ensuring that this ambitious project becomes a major community success by raising substantial private funds to complete Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the project. The completion of those currently-unfunded phases will result in the entire tunnel (plus 2.2 miles of trails and trailheads) being opened to the public. Separately, additional funding is needed to design and construct educational amenities that will tell the unique and fascinating story of the Blue Ridge Tunnel, and its important role in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia.