HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Harpers Ferry Mayor Wayne Bishop believes he will still see large crowds in town this weekend.
“We will have a large influx of visitors coming from DC, Virginia and Maryland. We are going to manage it as best as we can. I think that we’ll see a lot of people. I think that we’ll see crowds.”
Bishop expressed concern recently on Panhandle Live, heard on MetroNews affiliates WEPM and WCST, about available parking. The National Park Service’s Cavalier Heights parking lot remains closed due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Cavalier Heights can hold 1,000 cars, according to Bishop. Visitors are transported into town via the park’s shuttle system.
“People have been parking anywhere and everywhere to get into Harpers Ferry including (US Route) 340 or Chestnut Hill Road. They’re parking anywhere they can find it and that creates a problem for our residents in town who live in our neighborhoods.”
Police and National Park Service officials will be monitoring the traffic and parking situation throughout the weekend, Bishop said.
Limited parking will be available along Potomac and Washington streets. Like the rest of West Virginia, restaurants and shops are allowed to open with restrictions in place. The Town of Harpers Ferry is home to several locally-owned stores, restaurants and cafes.
“We developed a bit of a task force to look after public safety, traffic, parking, finance, our merchants and our businesses,” Bishop said. “Essentially, we closed the town down and it’s been extremely quiet for the last could of months. Based on the governor’s orders, we are in the process of slowly opening back up again.”
Good news is on the horizon for town and the park. The popular pedestrian bridge connecting Harpers Ferry to Maryland is being rebuilt.
The footbridge was destroyed during a CSX train derailment last December.
“The subcontractor working for CSX and the National Park Service came in and got their local business licenses,” Bishop said. “They’ve started delivering materials and work on that bridge, which is critical to everyone who lives and visits here. Preliminary reports are that hopefully by mid-summer that work will be completed.”
The bridge connects hikers and bikers to popular spots like Maryland Heights, the Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal.