Park Service Considers Options for Repairing AT Footbridge at Harpers Ferry

The Appalachian Trail footbridge across the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry remains closed to hikers as the National Park Service assesses the damage and considers how to pay for repairs.

The Park Service said on its website that it did not have a timeline for reopening the bridge between West Virginia and Maryland.

Tyrone Brandyburg, National Park Service superintendent for Harpers Ferry, told the Harpers Ferry Town Council in January that CSX owns the train bridge, but the Park Service owns the walkway, according to the Shepardstown Chronicle.

Brandyburg said it has not been determined who will pay to repair the footbridge, according to the newspaper.

The footbridge is the only crossing at the Potomac River considered safe for AT hikers.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy advises hikers who need transportation across the river to arrange a shuttle or check shuttle options here. The ATC advises hikers against walking on Highway 340 to cross the Potomac because the road has narrow shoulders and heavy traffic

The Goodloe Byron Memorial Footbridge was destroyed when seven freight train cars derailed just before 4 a.m. on Dec. 21, with two of the cars toppling over the footbridge and falling into the Potomac, according to the Park Service. The footbridge is part of the CSX freight line bridge crossing the Potomac.

Rail service was restored Dec. 22 after the toppled cars were put back on the tracks.

The Park Service said people will be unable to cross between Harpers Ferry and the C&O Canal towpath and from Harpers Ferry to the Maryland Heights trail.

Feature image courtesy of Kadi Hirth.

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