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.
Nelson County has proposed to VDOT that state/federal grant funding received under the Transportation Alternative(s) Program for Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Project be consolidated into a revised scope of work to allow both phases to be completed in their entirety. Phase 2 initially was to complete the removal of 2 bulkheads that were installed in the Tunnel in the 1950’s and for a certain amount of Tunnel restoration. Phase 3 was originally planned to complete the Tunnel’s rehabilitation and trail and to construct the western trail and parking lot on the Augusta County side of the project. Nelson County will now proceed on a revised Phase 2 to complete the overall restoration of the Tunnel and the trail through the Tunnel with public advertisement for receipt of sealed bids to be issued late 2015 to early 2016 – with an anticipated six to eight month construction period. Phase 3 will require additional funding for the last project element of a trail and parking lot from the Augusta County side to the West Portal. If additional grant applications are successful, and are fully funded, the overall Blue Ridge Tunnel Project could be completed as early as 2017.
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.