More road work -- relatively straightforward paving, not reconstruction -- is coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park this summer.
The Newfound Gap Road, which had a roughly 200-foot-long gash repaired earlier this year, will have 6.1 miles repaved as part of a multi-phased rehabilitation project that started back in 2007. The section to be resurfaced extends from Chimney’s Picnic Area south to an overlook approximately 2 miles south of the Alum Cave Bluffs parking area where the last phase ended.
The work will be performed under a $13.2 million contract with Estes Brothers Construction of Jonesville, Virginia, and will be administered by the Federal Highway Administration’s Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division. Funding is provided to the NPS through the Federal Lands Transportation Program to support this work.
“In developing this contract we made every effort to minimize the disruption to visitor access to park attractions and to our gateway communities," said park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. "The contract incorporates a variety of work restrictions that are tailored to minimize lane closures during the busiest periods.”
Motorists should expect delays due to lane closures through June 15. There will not be any daytime lane closures from June 15 through August 15. After August 15, daytime lane closures will again be allowed. No work of any kind will be permitted on federal holidays or during the month of October.
This section of road was last repaved in the 1980s and is badly deteriorated, according to park staff. In addition to the repaving, major work items in this project include the replacement of drainage culverts and the repair of several guard walls. This work is the second of three phases to repair all 15 miles of the Road from Newfound Gap to the park boundary at Gatlinburg - a process that park managers expect to finish in 2016.