Shenandoah County – Seven Bends State Park Study
Mr. Terry Short, Jr.
Seven Bends State Park Access Study
With a combination of both donated and purchased property, at 1,066 acres Sevens Bends State Park represents the newest addition to the Virginia State Park system. Located in Woodstock, Virginia, Seven Bends State Park will provide access to the North Fork of the Shenandoah River once facilities are built. Activities within the park will support water and land based outdoor recreation and educational opportunities. The master plan for the park was first developed in 2008. Coupled with a recession and other factors, the official opening of the park had been delayed. As conditions have improved, a renewed effort and a $2.2 million allocation by the General Assembly have made the opening of the park to visitors now imminent.
VDOT is partnering with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to explore both intermediate and long term access options for the park, such that visitors can safely reach Seven Bends and minimize additional traffic along existing local roads. To be clear, the park will generate additional traffic on local roads and it is not the intent of this study to identify mitigation for all new site generated traffic. Instead, the Department is interested in providing technical transportation alternative access support to DCR so that intermediate and long term options might be then integrated into their master planning efforts for the park, both internal, and external to the park.
The Transportation Study
This study is co-championed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Department of Transportation. Additional anticipated stakeholders will also include Shenandoah County, Town of Woodstock, EMS Providers and adjacent and impacted land owners. We plan to conduct 9 tube count locations within the study area. A road capacity and safety analysis using existing and forecasted traffic conditions will be conducted. The study will be guided by an inclusive stakeholder process to ensure that they are involved early and often in the planning process via a series of workshops. Alternatives will be refined, and a high-level environmental assessment of potential impacts will be documented. The final work product will include up to 3 alignment and/or access options, planning level cost estimates, and supporting documentation.
The park offers two points of access, one at Lupton Road at the northern entrance, and the second located along Hollingsworth Road. Original DCR master plan efforts (2008) envisioned a connector road contained within the park that would join both the Lupton and Hollingsworth access points. In 2017 the master plan was revised to remove the desired connector road. Steep slopes, natural heritage assets, important natural habitat and ecosystem diversity make the connector road infeasible. One consequence to the lack of an internal connector road within the park will be that visitors must travel nearly 8 miles roundtrip from one side of the park to the other.
In addition to developing intermediate and long term vehicular access alternatives at the north and south entrances, the Department will also explore non-motorized ingress and egress options to support life safety and rescue operations at the park. A 10-ton weight restriction is currently in place at the Hollingsworth entrance, and no restriction at the Lupton entrance.
The expected outcome of the proposed study will be a detailed report which evaluates the existing and future conditions of alignment/access options and a determination of its ability to maintain/improve safety and operations within the study area, while providing meaningful and thoughtful access to Seven Bends State Park assets. Safety, operations, and likely environmental outputs will also be provided to help inform future master planning efforts by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
An online public survey was conducted in January and February 2020. Public input from this survey will be evaluated as part of the study process.