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Energy & Environment

U.S. Funds Blue Ridge Parkway Project And Wildlife Refuge Link

101720 Blue Ridge Parkway.JPG
David Boraks
New federal funding will pay for deferred maintenance of the roadway along on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Updated 3:52 p.m.
Seventy-six miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina will be rebuilt thanks to funding Congress approved this past summer. The parkway is among a series of deferred maintenance projects funded under the Great American Outdoors Act signed by President Trump.

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis co-sponsored the bill. His office said in June that the parkway had a backlog of $295 million in maintenance projects.

A park spokeswoman said that 2018 figure is in the midst of being revised. And she said it's too soon to say how much the 76-mile segment might cost.

Spokeswoman Leesa Brandon said the road work would run from just north of Doughton Park near milepost 230 to near Grandfather Mountain, around milepost 305. It's not clear when the work will happen or whether the parkway might have to close for the project.

"The project is in the pre-design stage and will require subsequent environmental and historic preservation reviews prior to contracting and construction. Until a contract is awarded, it’s premature to provide a construction cost or construction timeline," Brandon said in an email.

About 250 miles of the 469-mile parkway are in North Carolina.

U.S. Department of Interior officials gave details Monday of projects nationwide to be funded under the legislation. That includes another $1 million to start acquiring land to connect two national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina - Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes.

That money comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The department says it plans a "phased acquisition" of an 8,263-acre tract between the two wildlife refuges that will provide "a travel corridor for black bear, and other wildlife species." Eventually, the land also will be available for public hunting and public access.

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Corrected: November 25, 2020 at 3:14 PM EST
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the milepost numbers for Doughton Park and Grandfather Mountain, which were reversed.