Rep. Riggleman Meets with NPS to Improve Safety at Wintergreen

March 12, 2019
In The News

NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia’s 5th District Republican congressman is working to make Wintergreen Mountain safer.

Denver Riggleman is teaming up with first responders to add a second entry and exit point to the mountaintop in case of emergency, but that effort will require some federal help.

On Monday, March 11, Riggleman met with the National Park Service to discuss the project.

For Riggleman, a Nelson County businessman, this project hits close to home.

The mountain currently has just one way in and one way out, but a proposed emergency exit route that connects to the Blue Ridge Parkway could soon change that.

Because the road would cut through about 450 feet of National Park Service land to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the project will require the NPS to sign off on an easement.

On Monday, Riggleman met with J.D. Lee, the NPS superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Riggleman says they discussed the logistics of this proposed project, and the reasons why people who live on the mountaintop have been calling for this for more than a decade.

“There is really no route that we can see that won't go directly through national park land, and my question to them was easy - you know, listen, if we can have eminent domain for things like pipelines over National Park Service, I can't see why we can't have an easement for safety of citizens up on Wintergreen,” Riggleman said.

Wintergreen Fire and Rescue Chief Curtis Sheets says this direct route to the Blue Ridge Parkway would be mutually beneficial for all parties since his team responds to emergencies on the parkway and this route could make their response times even quicker.

Riggleman says he and National Park Service staff agreed to hold another meeting sometime next month at Wintergreen to discuss the project further.