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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Comments 5

  • Stephen Satterwhite : Jan 21st

    Why is CSX’s insurance not paying for a new bridge. They are the ones who destroyed it. National Park Service shouldn’t be flipping the bill.

  • SA Brotherton : Jan 21st

    I was thinking the same thing Stephen – doesn’t matter who owns it, who was the cause of it….

  • Peter B : Jan 21st

    This could be an economic hit for the surrounding communities, both the hiking and biking communities use this bridge. Bring back the ferry or a basket, pulley and cable system. They could make the roads safe but citizens don’t have lobbyists.

  • Peter B : Jan 21st

    Why doesn’t the Trek and other ventures that rely on this bridge organize a campaign to get this done by the Spring? Who do we call, email, pester? How much money does CSX get in aid, tax breaks, rights of way?

  • Fireman : Jan 22nd

    I’m looking at the Google Street View for US-340 and it looks like there is a protected walkway on either side on the bridge. It’s only about 1 person wide, but there’s a concrete divider to protect from traffic.


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