The road, the only one that crosses the park, was severed by a landslide back on January 16. But at 10 a.m. EST today the entire route was officially reopened.
Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Michell Hicks, and Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) Construction Operations Engineer Emmett Melton jointly announced the opening of the road, which came 30 days ahead of the scheduled completion date of May 15.
The National Park Service, FHWA, Phillips & Jordan, Inc. (P&J), APAC Harrison Division, and all subcontractors worked cooperatively in the most efficient and expeditious manner possible to restore Hwy 441 to a safe byway for the traveling public, the gateway communities, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The primary repair contract was awarded to P&J for the submitted bid of $3,989,890 with the completion date set at May 15. The contract included a monetary incentive of $18,000 per day to the each day of completion prior to May 15, up to a maximum of $504,000 offered jointly by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and the National Park Service.
“We recognize the economic importance of the road to our neighboring communities and are grateful that our partners at Federal Highways Administration and were able to respond efficiently to our need and work with the contractors to make the necessary repairs in less than 90 days,” said Superintendent Ditmanson.
APAC Harrison Division completed Phase 1 of the reconstruction project on February 21 by developing the access road to the slide area, removing debris, and stabilizing the slope above the work area. P&J mobilized equipment on February 22 to begin Phase 2 of the reconstruction project, which included rebuilding the roadway and filling the area washed away during the landslide with crushed stone.
The final design includes over 200 feet of pipes to allow for the drainage of subsurface water flow along with 150 feet of side drainage leading to a culvert at the end of the slope. This drainage system and pervious crushed stone material is designed to further protect the road and park resources from future damage due to both overflow and subsurface water flow. The fill area was naturally sloped and planted with seed. In addition, erosion measures were put into place along the 900 foot debris field below the landslide which was also seeded.
For the most current road conditions, please call 865-436-1200 x 631 or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.