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Appalachian Trail to be closed temporarily at Lehigh Gap for slope stabilization project

Published June 04. 2011 09:08AM

Helicopter operations are expected to resume on Wednesday as work continues on the slope stabilization project at Lehigh Gap.

The current schedule for helicopter work is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 8-10, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 11. June 12 has been reserved as a contingency day depending on how much progress has been made.

The helicopter is being used to transport materials to the upper slopes that are not accessible by other means, according to J. David Reuss, project coordinator, Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

Reus said that due to the potentially hazardous on-the-ground conditions caused by the rotorwash and overhead material transport, the Appalachian Trail in the immediate vicinity of the work zone will be closed to ensure the safety of visitors.

Day hikers will be stopped from entering the work zone, and directed to alternate hiking locations across the Lehigh River, he said. Distance hikers who are passing through the area will be allowed to cross through the work zone, but only during windows of time when the helicopter is not working in the area, Reus said.

There may be periods when hikers will be asked to wait until it is safe to enter the area, Reus said. Hikers will be assisted by personnel stationed at the trailhead.

The helicopter operations are due to rock slope work at the Appalachian Trail being performed by a contractor for the National Park Service.

The National Park Service, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, has implemented the engineered slope stabilization project through the use of American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding.

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