VDOT awards contract for new pedestrian bridge over Route 311 in Roanoke County

New bridge will carry the Appalachian Trail over Route 311 at McAfee Knob trailhead

SALEM — The Virginia Department of Transportation has awarded a $1.5 million contract to construct a new pedestrian bridge to carry the Appalachian Trail over Route 311 (Catawba Valley Drive) in Roanoke County. The contract was awarded to Stonewall Bridge from Vinton.

As a long-term improvement to enhance pedestrian safety, VDOT, in partnership with the National Park Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, Roanoke County and the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, pursued plans for a bridge to carry trail users over Route 311 away from vehicular traffic.

The McAfee Knob trailhead of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail access is extremely popular with hikers but poses a safety concern as pedestrians entering the trail from the nearby parking lot must cross Route 311 a location in a curve with limited sight distance. 

The new concrete and steel bridge will be approximately 90-feet long, eight feet wide and span 17.5 feet above the Route 311 roadway. The bridge's appearance will blend in with the Appalachian Trail’s natural setting with gray architectural treatments to simulate rock. A sidewalk ramp also will be constructed to allow handicapped access from the parking area onto the bridge.

During construction, drivers should expect occasional lane closures on Route 311 during daytime hours outside of peak travel times and during some nighttime hours.

The trailhead parking lot will be closed to visitors during construction. A recreational shuttle service is available from the I-81 exit 140 park and ride lot to access the McAfee Knob trailhead. Reservations are encouraged but walk-up service is also available. To check the shuttle schedule or make reservations, visit https://www.roanokecountyva.gov/McAfeeKnobShuttle. Permanent parking capacity will be restored once construction is completed.

Work is expected to be underway by the end of 2023 and be completed in late 2024. 

Last updated: July 17, 2024

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