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Re-construction Begins March 1 on Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) through the Smokies

GATLINBURG -- Motorists travelling across Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) can expect to experience delays beginning March 1, 2011 when work begins to rehabilitate 2.4 miles of the road from the North Carolina state line at Newfound Gap northward into Tennessee. The work will be performed by Estes Brothers Construction, Inc. of Jonesville, Va. under a $7.8 million contract with the Federal Highway Administration.

In addition to repaving that segment of the road, the contactor will be repairing thousands of feet of stone masonry retaining walls and several drainage culverts. At two locations the retaining walls will require extensive re-construction to support the roadbed, necessitating the closure of one lane between March 1 and June 10, 2011.

At the upper retaining wall worksite, just above the Morton Overlook, flaggers will be used to control traffic around the lane closure during daytime hours, from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., but two-lane traffic will be restored overnight. At the lower site, traffic signals will be installed to control alternating north-bound and south-bound traffic around the clock, seven days a week.

From June 11 until August 15 daytime lane closures will not be permitted, but will be allowed overnight from 9:00 p.m. through 8:00 a.m.

Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said, "We try very hard to minimize impacts on Park visitors due to road construction. We applied this same lane closure schedule when we rebuilt the North Carolina end of Newfound Gap Road from the state line to Cherokee, NC between 2006 and 2010 and found that delays were modest and complaints almost non-existent."

Completion of the current contract is scheduled for October 2, 2012. This work is the first of three phases to repair all 15 miles of the Road from Newfound Gap to the Park boundary at Gatlinburg, TN a process that Park managers expect to finish in 2016.

Published February 24, 2011

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