Improve Visitor Safety and Mitigate Rockfall Hazards in the Paw Paw Tunnel Hollow
The purpose of this project is to remove debris from the canal prism deposited in a 2016 rockslide and to stabilize the rock face adjacent to the canal for 1,000 feet north of the Paw Paw Tunnel. The project would also replace in-kind the wooden boardwalk that serves as the towpath for 750 feet of this stretch. This project is needed to improve visitor safety and to prevent disruptions to towpath continuity that may result from future landslides. This project would also allow the park to address visitor safety and access issues at the Paw Paw Campground parking lot and on its entrance road. The campground parking lot is not currently large enough to accommodate the number of visitors to the area; when the existing parking lot fills, visitors park along State Route 51, creating a safety hazard. This project would provide the opportunity to use removed rock material to expand the existing parking lot and to widen the entrance ramp off of State Route 51 from one lane to two lanes, thus reducing the possibility of collision between cars entering and exiting the campground.
The National Park Service (NPS) proposes to mitigate safety concerns associated with rockslides at the downstream entry of the Paw Paw Tunnel. The Paw Paw Tunnel is in a remote area of Allegany County in an area prone to rockslides. A towpath closure in the tunnel or areas immediately upstream or downstream of the tunnel requires a lengthy and strenuous detour over a mountain. The tunnel is the only emergency access route to the towpath on the downstream end of the tunnel. The tunnel also has historical significance as one of the most significant works of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and typically receives more than 30,000 visitors each year.