Traffic increases on the highways in Fayetteville National Park

Sharon Renard says she enjoys having a full parking lot, but US-19 may now need traffic lights. (Photo: David Seabrae)

Fayetteville, Virginia – Thanks to a massive increase in visits to America’s newest national park, car traffic in and around Fayetteville is increasing significantly, and top officials and business leaders recommend exploring safety measures that can include traffic lights.

Sharon Renard, whose commercial property in US-19 sees some of the highest traffic in the area, says she and her renters have seen a significant increase in vehicular traffic in front of the property and on the road out of the national park.

“It’s definitely not like anything we’ve seen before,” said Renard, “but that’s because we’ve never experienced this amazing movement. It looks like it’s multiplied, but that’s a new reality.”

Rep. Austin Haynes (R-Fayette) said his office is looking into potential treatments and safety initiatives to deal with the increase, including installing traffic lights.

“I don’t think anyone really realized what a national park would do,” Haynes said of the growth that jumped in 2021 when Congress announced the creation of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. “I don’t think anyone really understands.”

Haynes said he has been consulting with officials from the state Department of Highways regarding traffic issues on US-19 Highway in Fayetteville and north of the New River Gorge bridge.

“I’ve been working with the Department of Health to find a cure in Fayetteville and on the north side of the bridge near the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, which is the Endless Wall Trail and a lot of traffic coming from the byways to US-19,” the rep said.

“Over the past several months, we have seen a slight increase in accidents due to the influx of traffic, but I am confident we can get something done – traffic lights, warning signs for traffic coming into the area or speed limits for some nature.”

Renard said international guests routinely visit businesses on her property now as news of the park spreads, and tourists looking for the New River Gorge Bridge in her parking lot, closest to the historic bridge at the end of Fayetteville, turn around.

She says she’ll greet a traffic light at the intersection in front of her home as tourists from Park Road traveling across the strait under the bridge join US-19 traffic.

According to the department, US-19 saw an average of 15,952 vehicles per day in 2021, and no more statistics are available to the public yet. The park’s scenic route through the strait saw an average of 189 vehicles daily.

“It’s great to see all these tourists arrive, but we need to make sure we give them a good time and a safe time,” Renard said.

Haynes says that despite the difficulty and safety issues that the traffic has caused, the benefits are revolutionizing the area.

“This has been a blessing for us because we’ve seen a lot of growth,” Hines said.

Mysterious stone face attracts curious in New River Gorge

A mysterious stone face carved into the mossy sandstone along the edge of the New River Gorge is attracting increasing interest.
“The benevolent spirit of the forest,” the stone face has become an important source of tradition in the New River region.

A mysterious stone face carved into moss sandstone along the edge of the New River Gorge is attracting increased interest as tourism grows in New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. Although its origins are widely regarded as a mystery, its sculpted face was most likely carved in the 1950s, and its creator’s son may still live in the area near Fayetteville, West Virginia. Read the full story here.

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