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Woolpert Innovators Honored for Blue Ridge Tunnel Project

View of the replacement Blue Ridge Tunnel (left) constructed by the C&O in 1944. The old tunnel is visible to the right.

View of the replacement Blue Ridge Tunnel (left) constructed by the C&O in 1944. The old tunnel is visible to the right.

The Central Virginia Chapter of WTS International has awarded its 2015 Innovative Transportation Solutions award to Woolpert’s Kirsten Tynch and Judy Beale. Woolpert is a national architecture, engineering and geospatial firm headquartered in Dayton, Ohio.

Tynch and Beale earned the award for Woolpert’s surveying and design efforts on the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel project in Nelson County, Va.

Nelson County is using Transportation Alternatives grant funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation to help pay for the preservation and restoration of the tunnel, and to create pedestrian trails for visitors to experience the historic site.

Funding has been secured for the first two phases of the project. Construction began on Phase I in November, and Phase II is scheduled to begin this summer.

Tynch, the Woolpert project manager, said she was surprised and honored to receive the WTS award. She called the Blue Ridge Tunnel restoration a “once-in-a-lifetime” project.

“The tunnel was a route that helped open up the western expansion of the United States and was considered to be an engineering marvel of its time,” she said. “To be a part of reopening the tunnel for people to see and experience that history is amazing.”

The Blue Ridge Tunnel, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, is located at Rockfish Gap at a natural low point in Afton Mountain. When it was completed in 1858, Blue Ridge Tunnel was the longest tunnel in the United States at 4,273 linear feet.

After the tunnel restoration process is finished, there will be more than 6,000 linear feet of trails connecting two parking areas to the tunnel.

WTS International is an organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the global advancement of women. The Innovative Transportation Solutions Award salutes an innovative transportation project led by a woman.

By winning this chapter award, Tynch and Beale are in the running for a WTS International Recognition Award. The international awards will be presented during the organization’s annual conference in Chicago in May.

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