Pennsylvania’s Kinzua Bridge State Park Skywalk to Undergo Rehabilitation Project

In a significant announcement, Pennsylvania’s renowned Kinzua Bridge State Park Skywalk is slated for temporary closure during parts of September and October, followed by a more extensive closure in November, to facilitate a crucial rehabilitation project expected to span over two years.

Rehabilitation Project Details

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), led by Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, disclosed in a recent news release that the skywalk will cease operations on November 19th, marking the commencement of a maintenance endeavor set to kick off in early 2025 and extend until fall 2027. During this period, both the skywalk and the Kinzua Creek Trail will be inaccessible to the public.

Background and Maintenance Need

Having withstood decades of weather challenges, including the recent impact of high winds in the Mount Jewett area of McKean County, the skywalk underwent a thorough inspection in June.

Fortunately, engineering inspectors commissioned by the DCNR confirmed the absence of any structural damage, swiftly reopening the site. However, pre-scheduled structural and rehabilitation work, initially slated for 2024, had already been arranged.

Park Facilities and Visitor Access

While the skywalk and trail will be off-limits, visitors can still access the Kinzua Bridge State Park Visitor Center throughout the maintenance period. Additionally, amenities such as picnic areas, pavilions, playgrounds, and observation decks will remain available for public use.

Temporary Closures and Foliage Viewing

Despite the ongoing maintenance, the DCNR assures the safety of the skywalk for fall foliage viewing this year. However, intermittent closures may occur in September and October for preparatory and surveying activities.

Nevertheless, the skywalk will open for approximately two months annually during the rehabilitation period, specifically to allow visitors to enjoy the scenic fall foliage. Work operations will pause during winter months due to weather constraints.

Park Significance and Historical Context

Spanning 339 acres, Kinzua Bridge State Park is centered around the iconic skywalk, towering 301 feet above the valley floor. Originally part of the longest and tallest railroad structure globally, the viaduct suffered partial destruction from a tornado in 2003, leading to the establishment of the skywalk in 2011.

Rehabilitation Scope and Impact

The forthcoming rehabilitation project encompasses various tasks crucial for enhancing the structural integrity and safety of the skywalk. These include:

  • Removal of decking and railroad ties to access the towers.
  • Addition and replacement of steel where thinning has occurred.
  • Reinstallation of railroad ties and decking.
  • Installation of new plexiglass at the viewing area.
  • Handrail replacement.
  • Blast-cleaning and painting of all steel components.

Visitor Advisory and Park Operations

It’s important to note that closures of the skywalk and Kinzua Creek Trail may transpire unexpectedly due to inclement weather conditions or adverse forecasts. Therefore, prospective visitors are encouraged to check the Kinzua Bridge State Park website or contact the park office at 814-778-5467 for real-time closure updates.

The park operates daily from sunrise to sunset, with day-use areas closing at dusk. Visitor center hours may vary seasonally, but it typically opens from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from mid-March through early November.

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