Officials at Great Smoky Mountains, working with the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), have announced that the field survey to assess the damage the January 16 landslide has been completed. They are now in the initial stage of preparing to reconstruct the 200 foot linear feet of Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) that was damaged in a landslide on January 16, 2013.
The initial phases of work will include site stabilization, removal of landslide debris, and constructing a path for construction vehicles to access the slide area below the roadway. The work on the site is expected to begin next week and will be coordinated by the FHWA.
Preparation for beginning work is still taking place, and the design work is still in the development process, however, it is known that the road will be reconstructed as a reinforced full slope roadway. The design will also include a system for the drainage of water which will protect the road and park resources from further damage. Design on the second phase will begin when the initial site prep work has been completed. According to the Park it’s still too early to give a timeline of completion; that will come after the final design has been developed and approved.
Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said “We recognize the importance of Newfound Gap Road to our neighboring communities in our tourism based economy. “Therefore we are evaluating all reconstruction options to make sure the road work is completed in a timely but safe and efficient manner.”
In order to reduce sediment and erosion into Beech Flats Prong stream located just below the slide area the park is moving forward on re¬-vegetating the 3 acre debris field created by the slide with native species.
Access from Gatlinburg to Cherokee will remained closed during the construction period, however, Newfound Gap Road has been opened from the Gatlinburg, TN entrance to Newfound Gap, and from Cherokee, NC entrance to Smokemont Campground. Visitors who want to sightsee and recreate in the park will still find opportunities through both entrances.