As part of a project to construct a new pedestrian bridge to carry the Appalachian Trail over Route 311 (Catawba Valley Drive), parking at the McAfee Knob trailhead will close on November 30. Hikers will still have access to the Appalachian Trail at this location but will need to stay in designated areas outside the active construction area.
There will be no parking at the trailhead lot during bridge construction. Permanent parking capacity will be restored once bridge construction is completed by late 2024.
Alternative parking is available at the Catawba Sustainability Center and along some shoulders on Route 864 (Old Catawba Road). Drivers should pay close attention and only park where designated by signs. Towing is enforced.
Starting on March 1, 2024, recreational shuttle service to the trailhead will resume after being suspended on November 26, 2023, for the winter months. The shuttle runs from the Interstate 81 Exit 140 Park and Ride lot to the McAfee Knob Trailhead. Reservations are encouraged but walk-up service is also available. To check the shuttle schedule or make reservations, visit www.mcafeeshuttle.com.
In October, the Virginia Department of Transportation awarded a $1.5 million contract to Stonewall Bridge Inc. from Vinton to construct the new pedestrian 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.
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 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 bridge.