FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. – Motor vehicle traffic in and around Fayetteville is increasing remarkably thanks to the dramatic increase in visitor numbers to America’s newest national park, leading officials and business leaders to recommend examining safety measures that could include road signs.
Sharon Rynard, whose commercial lot on US-19 is among the busiest in the area, says she and her rental companies have seen an observable increase in vehicle traffic in front of the property and on the avenue leading out of the national park.
“It certainly doesn’t compare to anything we’ve ever seen,” Rynard said, “but that’s because we’ve never had this incredible traffic. It seems to have doubled, but that’s a new reality.”
Delegate Austin Haynes (R-Fayette) said his office is studying mitigation measures and potential safety initiatives to deal with the surge, including installing traffic signs.
“I don’t think anyone really realized what a national park would do,” Haynes said of the growth, which skyrocketed in 2021 when Congress announced the creation of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. “I don’t think anyone really got it.”
Haynes said he consulted with State Department of Highways officials about traffic issues on the US-19 expressway in Fayetteville and north of the New River Gorge Bridge as a result of the creation of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
“I’ve been working with the DOH to provide remedial work in Fayetteville and on the north side of the bridge near the Canyon Rim Visitor Center where there is the Endless Wall Trail and heavy traffic coming into the US from the side streets -19”, said the delegate.
“In the last few months we’ve seen an increase in accidents due to traffic, but I’m confident we can achieve something – traffic lights or warning lights for traffic coming into the area, or speed limits of some sort.”
Rynard said international guests, now routinely visiting businesses on their property as news of the park spreads, and tourists searching for the New River Gorge Bridge are turning their heads at their parking lot, that of the landmark bridge at the end of Fayetteville is closest.
She says she would welcome a traffic light at the intersection in front of her property, where tourists will rejoin US-19 traffic from the avenue that runs through the ravine under the bridge.
According to the ministry, US-19 saw an average of 15,952 vehicles daily in 2021, and other statistics are not yet publicly available. The scenic Parkway route through the gorge averaged 189 vehicles per day.
“It’s wonderful to see all these tourists arriving, but we have to make sure we’re showing them a good time and a safe time,” Rynard said.
Haynes says that despite the difficulties and safety issues traffic has caused, the benefits are revolutionizing the area.
“It’s been a blessing for us because we’ve seen a lot of growth,” Haynes said.
Mysterious stone wall that attracts the curious in the New River Gorge
An enigmatic rock wall carved into mossy sandstone along the rim of the New River Gorge is attracting increasing attention as tourism increases in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. Although its origins are popularly considered a mystery, the bas-relief visage was likely carved in the 1950s, and its creator’s son may still reside in the area near Fayetteville, West Virginia. READ THE FULL STORY HERE.
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