Repaving Work to Begin on Newfound Gap Road
Contact: Bob Miller, (865) 436-1207
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale A. Ditmanson has announced that an 18 month-long project to repave 6.5 miles of the Park’s Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) is set to begin on March 16.
Newfound Gap Road serves as the primary visitor access to many of the Park’s most popular trailheads and scenic overlooks and is a heavily-traveled north-south artery between the tourist hubs of Cherokee, NC, and Gatlinburg, TN. The section to be resurfaced extends from the Collins Creek Picnic Area intersection south to the Park’s boundary with Cherokee, NC.
The work will be performed under a $9,922,175 contract with APAC Atlantic, Inc., and will be funded and administered by the Federal Highway Administration’s Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division. Completion of the work is expected by September 1, 2010.
Superintendent Ditmanson said, "In negotiating this contract we made every effort to minimize the disruption to visitor access to Park attractions and to our gateway communities. The contract incorporates a variety of work restrictions that are tailored to avoid lane closures during the busiest periods."
"However," Ditmanson said, "Given that paving work cannot be done in the coldest months, we could not avoid some traffic delays and still get the work done within a reasonable time frame. Up until June 15 lane-closures can take place around the clock during the week, but will not be allowed between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on weekends, holidays, or during Easter Week (April 10 through April 19). Weekends are defined as noon on Friday through 8:00 a.m. on Monday." From June 15 through August 15 no closures will be permitted at all between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m."
"We repaved the first ten miles of Newfound Gap Road in 2006 and 2007 using this same set of restrictions and found that inconvenience and complaints were very minimal," Ditmanson concluded.
From August 16, 2009 through June 15, 2010, daytime lane closures will again be allowed except on weekends, and holidays. No work of any kind will be permitted during the month of October, on the day after Thanksgiving, or from December 23 through January 2. During periods when single lane closures are allowed the contractor may close up to four areas at a time but delays at each closure may not exceed 10 minutes at each location.
The Park has set up a new toll-free recording to provide current information on the status of any lane closures: 1-888-355-1849. Information on unplanned or emergency road closures in the Smokies are always available at (865) 436-1200, ext. 631 (in Tennessee), or (828) 497-1909.
This section of road was last repaved in 1983 and is badly deteriorated. In addition to removal and replacement of old pavement, the contract includes widening and realignment of the road at the entrance to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
Did You Know?
The park’s high elevation heath balds are treeless expanses where dense thickets of shrubs such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, and sand myrtle grow. Known as “laurel slicks” and “hells” by early settlers, heath balds were most likely created by forest fires long ago. More...