By Nathan Ham
Visitors in Blowing Rock might not have to spend their whole trip driving around Main Street looking for a convenient parking spot. The AppalCart recently started its weekend shuttle service on July 6 that will make it easier for people to navigate their way through Blowing Rock.
“What we have are people that just circle the block over and over looking for parking spaces. Hopefully this will help take those cars off the street and shuttle those people up from other parking areas to Main Street,” said Charles Hardin, the President of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. “If this goes well, it could be expanded to include other areas such as Chetola, the Green Park Inn and other hotels so folks can leave their cars parked.”
The shuttle will run from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m on Friday and 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturdays with 10 stops along the route. Stops include Main Street at Morris Street, the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, the parking deck on Wallingford Street, baseball field, Lakeside Drive, Highway 221 at Main Street, Highway 221 at Hill Street, Ransom Street at Sunset Drive, the Public House and the city park.
This shuttle will also make it easier to use some parking areas that have a little bit more of a walk to get to the shops and restaurants in downtown Blowing Rock.
“There is a bit of parking that is not utilized very much because people have to walk up a long hill and I understand that, especially for elderly people, so this should will help alleviate that,” Hardin said.
The AppalCart has been in service in Boone since 1981 and has logged well over 18 million miles shuttling students, visitors and residents around Boone in their 37 years of public transportation.
Doug Matheson, Blowing Rock Town Councilman and board member of the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority (TDA), hopes that the things go well this summer with the new route and will bring about the possibility of adding a second route next year.
“We hope to extend, if everything goes well this summer, to maybe add another one next year, an outer loop trying to pick up all the hotels and businesses from Shops on the Parkway all the way out to Green Park Inn and maybe out to the rock,” said Matheson.
Helping people navigate traffic in Blowing Rock is something that has become more of an issue as of late with ongoing roadwork projects coupled with the town being a popular tourist destination.
“If we can get people used to parking somewhere or leave their car at the motel when they get here, catch the AppalCart and go wherever they want, get off, catch the AppalCart and come back. That’s what we hope we’re going to have,” Matheson said.