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Work to begin on Harpers Ferry pedestrian bridge

By Staff | May 8, 2020

The footbridge in Harpers Ferr,y connecting West Virginia to the Maryland shoreline across the Potomac River, was damaged when several train cars derailed in December 2019. Toni Milbourne

HARPERS FERRY-Just over four months after multiple cars of a train owned by CSX derailed in Harpers Ferry destroying much of the Goodloe E. Byron Memorial Pedestrian Walkway that connected the small town to the Maryland shoreline across the Potomac River.

The derailment occurred on Dec. 21, 2019, eliminating access across the bridge, which was used by hikers and visitors not only to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, but also to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The footbridge is a route many hikers take to reach Maryland Heights.

In a press release issued at the end of April, officials with the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park indicated the park service and officials with CSX were working to obtain a permit to begin repairs to the footbridge.

“While the project terms and the timeline for repairs are still under discussion, the (National Park Service) and CSX are working toward a late spring start date for construction,” the park service said.

Previously, the NPS placed a potential start date to the project at late spring; a notice shared by the Canal Towns Partnership announced the start date for construction would be May 11.

“A contractor has been retained, and preparations are underway (purchase/staging of materials, etc.). CSX is facilitating the repairs,” the notice said.

The NPS said a completion time for repairs is uncertain; however, a late spring to early summer date is hopeful.

“We understand the access to the footbridge is important to hikers and visitors to the area, and we are working to reduce the inconvenience,” said a representative for Harpers Ferry National Historic Park.

Repair costs will be absorbed by CSX.

Discussions have been ongoing, regarding a shuttle service for trail hikers and other visitors; however, no date for that service has been announced. Officials said CSX and the NPS are coordinating to fund and operate such a shuttle; however, these discussions have been ongoing with no plan yet put into place. The shutdown of the National Park due to COVID-19 has eliminated the need for immediate action.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, on its website www.appalachiantrail.org/transportation, has information to assist individuals with finding taxis or private shuttles around closures.

Updates to the footbridge project can be found at go.nps.gov/HAFEfootbridge.