Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians hope some financial incentives, and disincentives, will speed repairs to the Newfound Gap Road, which was severed by a landslide in January.
The two are pooling resources to offer an incentive of $18,000 per day to the selected contractor for each day of completion prior to May 15, up to a maximum of $500,000. The amount donated by the Cherokee tribe will apply to the first 14 days of the incentive period at the above rate.
The offer is being floated because an extended road closure has significant economic implications for the park's tourism-based gateway communities.
“We are grateful that our Cherokee neighbors offered to match the National Park Service $250,000 incentive proposal in order to motivate the contractor to complete the rehabilitation of the road as efficiently as possible,” said park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.
In addition to the monetary incentives, the contract also includes monetary disincentives. The contractor will be charged $18,000 per day past May 15 to help insure the project is completed on schedule.
The contracting piece for phase 2, involving the actual road reconstruction, was initiated on Friday January 25, when Federal Highways Administration posted a pre-solicitation for contractors with interest in repairing the landslide. Through this process a number of successful contractors submitted acceptable technical proposals and are now eligible to submit a bid to for the project. Bids from these contractors are due February 15, 2013.
The contract for this phase of work is estimated to cost between $3 million and $7 million. Final construction work will begin soon after.
Phase 1 of the reconstruction project is on schedule. Phase 1 contract crews from APAC –Atlantic Harrison are in the process of building the haul road, stabilizing the site, and removing debris to prepare the site for Phase 2 reconstruction. Soil erosion mitigation efforts to stabilize the debris field and minimize siltation into Beech Flats Prong stream have been completed. In addition, Park biologists have completed all environmental compliance associated with the road reconstruction.
Newfound Gap Road will remain closed to thru traffic during the construction, but visitors are still able to access the park to Newfound Gap from the Tennessee side and to Collins Creek Picnic Area from the Cherokee, North Carolina entrance.