Replace Stairway at Stopgate Milepost 13.7
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park staff will construct wooden staircases at the Stopgate/guard dike structure at Mile 13.7. The existing stairs have deteriorated and will be replaced. The staircases are necessary to allow visitors passage over the Stopgate structure whenever the stopgate boards are installed for predicted flood events. The staircases are attached to the south abutment of the stopgate structure and are being built to meet the Secretary of Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
Prior to predicted flood events, park staff install wooden planks into grooves within the stopgate to create a wall. This wall diverts floodwaters along the guard dike and back toward the Potomac River. Without the use of these historic structures, significant resource damage would be likely within the Widewater/Angler's Inn area, as was the case in 1996. However, with the wooden planks in position, the towpath is blocked. To allow towpath continuity, the wooden staircases will allow visitors a safe detour over the historic guard dike structure. These staircases will reduce the probability of social trail establishment. The staircases will also allow park staff to position the stopgate boards further in advance of predicted flooding, thus reducing safety concerns for the employees charged with this dangerous task.
The park's Interdisciplinary Team reviewed the project for impacts to natural and cultural resources. The project does not pose any serious or long-term effects to the environmental, historical, cultural, archeological, or visual resources. It meets categorical exclusion #C.8 – Replacement in kind of minor structures and facilities with little or no change in location, capacity, or appearance – for example, comfort stations, pit toilets, fences, kiosks, signs, and campfire circles.
The project also meets the National Historic Preservation Act/Section 106 Programmatic Agreement, Exclusions #IV.B 6 – rehabilitation and widening of existing trails, walks, paths, and sidewalks within previously disturbed areas, and; #IV.B 9 – Rehabilitation work limited to actions for retaining and preserving, protecting and maintaining, and repairing and replacing in kind materials and features, consistent with the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and the accompanying guidelines.
For further information about this project, please contact Park Engineer, at 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD 21740.