November 2, 2009
Bob Miller, (865) 436-1207
***This is an archived Press Release. Please note the date above and check for current updates on the Road and Facilities Improvements page.***
Next spring and early summer managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park expect to make over $44 million worth of major improvements to 56 miles of park roads, a campground and a popular trailhead parking area. Funding for the projects has become available from a combination of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act along with previously-authorized Federal Lands Highway Program funds.
"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act offers us the opportunity to substantially improve our infrastructure. When the projects are finished our road system will be in the best shape it has been in for decades and our visitors will find their travel safer as well as more pleasurable." said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. "With the number of projects going on at the same time there will be some impact on traffic while the work is underway. We have worked very hard to minimize this inconvenience through scheduling as much work as possible between February and Memorial Day."
The following park roadways will be re-surfaced and, in some cases, rebuilt using $24.6 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) during the target dates indicated:
- Clingmans Dome Road - From February 15 to May 28, 2010 the road will be closed to all traffic, but intermittent single-lane closures will continue until June 18
- Roaring Fork/Cherokee Orchard Rd. - February 1 to May 28, 2010 - The one-way Roaring Fork Road will be closed completely, while the two-way portion of Cherokee Orchard Road will be subject to managed single lane closures.
- Cosby Campground Roads - Campground was closed September 8 and will reopen as regularly scheduled in March, 2010
- The Sinks Parking Area and Meigs Creek Trailhead - will be closed from November through May 25, 2010
In addition to the ARRA-funded work, the following projects will be undertaken using $19.4 million from the Federal Lands Highway Program:
- Foothills Parkway - West (Blount County, TN) - May 10 to June 30, 2010 - road will be subject to single lane closures
- The Gatlinburg Bypass and Newfound Gap Road from the Gatlinburg boundary to the Sugarlands Visitor Center - April 1 to May 28, 2010 - The Bypass will be closed for three weeks in late March/early April, but Newfound Gap Road will be subject to managed lane closures
- Newfound Gap Road from Collins Creek Picnic Area to Cherokee, NC - work began in March 2009 and continue through November 2010. From now through June 15, 2010 the road is subject to weekday lane closures (no work allowed during October or during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday periods) In summer 2010 lane closures will be limited to nighttime.
- Cades Cove Loop Road - March 1 to May 21, 2010 - Road closed to all public use, however the campground, picnic area, store and horse stables will be open as normal.
"In addition to the work already funded, the Park has ARRA planning money to develop plans and contract documents to accomplish four more projects should funding become available." Ditmanson said. "These projects are: Repaving the Foothills Parkway - East, the Heintooga Ridge Road, and the Smokemont Campground and to formalize day use and hiker parking at the Jakes Creek and Little River Trailheads in Elkmont."
Complete information on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act activities in the U.S. Department of Interior is available at: www.interior.gov/recovery/.