Great Smoky Mountains National Park Officials to Outline Paving Options for Cades Cove

As wonderfully bucolic as Cades Cove is, the millions of cars and trucks that negotiate the cove's loop road each year have taken their toll, and now park officials need to come up with a plan for paving the loop in 2010. NPS photo.

It ain't gonna be pretty, but it's gotta be done. And with that in mind, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials will hold a public meeting next week to discuss alternatives for paving the 11-mile loop road around Cades Cove.

The meeting, set for 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. next Thursday, November 13, at the Townsend Heritage Center, will allow park officials to run through the alternative schedules and construction phases that are being considered to repave the Cades Cove Loop Road in early 2010.

“Our staff has been working with engineers at the Federal Highway Administration to develop a number of scenarios under which the repaving could be accomplished," says Great Smoky Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. "At the meeting we plan to lay out advantages and disadvantages of each concept in terms of their affects on the public’s access to the Cove. At the presentation we will welcome any questions about the various alternative concepts and the construction methods under study.”

The superintendent stresses that this meeting is not part of the Cades Cove Planning process, which began back in 2002. That process, he notes, is a "much broader discussion that includes various transportation alternatives for accessing the Cove and also evaluates a variety of potential facility changes. The National Park Service is still in process of evaluating the costs and impacts of those broader alternatives and will provide that analysis at public meetings at a later date.”

Comments

It's past time to pave the cove. That road has been crumbling for a very, very long time.

It will be interesting to see if there will be any "outside-the-box" alternatives offered at this meeting for helping to ease the traffic problems that plague the loop.

One definite positive impact that will come out of the repavement project is that road cycling will be a much more viable option on the loop. More people will be willing to ride their bikes once this is completed. Right now, you really need a mountain bike to ride over all the pot-holes.

Jeff
www.HikingintheSmokys.com

Does anyone know if there are any alternatives that mention mass transit? Perhaps some sort of shuttle system for the masses, with hiking and biking trails on the side?

Answering my own question. Here's what Bob Miller at Great Smoky tells me:

"None of the scenarios for repaving include any new construction. The existing road is in miserable shape. The Federal Highway Administration has provided the funding to fix it in-kind -- although it will be structurally much sounder than the current one. Next week's discussion is about HOW the repaving could be done.

"The result won't include any of the things you mention, but neither would it preclude adding them once the Cades Cove Planning Process is completed."

Kurt - don't know if you receive Smokies Life Magazine (excellent publication from the Great Smoky Mountains Association) or not, but there's an extensive interview with Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson in the current issue. Ditmanson stated that he's looking for ways to solve some of the heavy traffic problems in Cades Cove. He mentioned using buses as a possible solution, but cited issues with parking as being problematic.

FYI.

Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Has anyone thought about doing a environmental safe option like using old tires grounded up and laid out in a safe way?