Newfound Gap Road construction almost done

Crews working around the clock to repair landslide damage
Apr. 11, 2013 @ 11:30 PM

Construction to repair the 200-foot void on Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is nearly complete, a park official said.

Phase two of the construction began on Feb. 22 and has focused on filling the gap with 40,000 cubic yards — about 4,000 dump trucks' worth — of material, as well as rebuilding the paved roadway as a reinforced full slope roadway.

"The material has been layered, and they're re-vegetating the sides with grass and plants to help hold the slope together and hold the dirt in place," park spokeswoman Molly Schroer said.

The final stages of construction will include paving, shoulder construction and pavement striping.

Schroer said the roadway has not been paved yet, but crews are working 24 hours a day, every day of the week to complete the project.

"We've been pretty lucky with weather; it hasn't delayed us any," Schroer said. "It could delay if there's rain, though. You don't pave during those conditions or if it's below freezing."

Even with the road paved, signs of the slide will still be visible.

"Visitors will be able to tell where the slide occurred," Schroer said. "They'll be able to tell where we took the dirt from and where the gap was."

The gap was the result of a Jan. 16 landslide that undercut the road near mile marker 22 between Collins Creeks and Webb Overlook, seven miles below Newfound Gap on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

An unknown spring under the roadway, heavy rainfall and inclement weather during January caused the landslide. Schroer said the new design will mitigate the drainage issue.

The deadline on the construction contract is May 15. The contract includes an incentive of $18,000 per day to the contractor for each day of completion prior to May 15.

Likewise, the contractor will be charged $18,000 each day past the deadline.

According to a park press release, "Because these operations are weather dependent, officials cannot yet determine the date of completion and reopening of the road to the public."

rhargett@themountainpress.com