Shoring up hillside
Travelers entering and exiting Gatlinburg on the Parkway (U.S. 441, State Route 71) can expect lane closures and traffic delays over the next month until construction on a slope stabilization and retaining wall project in the area is complete.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) began construction on the Parkway near Dudley Creek Road on March 4, with an expected completion date of April 12.
The construction will address concerns with the hillside along that stretch of the roadway.
"We are stabilizing the slope, first by removing the loose material, rock and soil, and then by stabilizing the slope two ways — with a soldier pile retaining wall and with a rock fall protection drape," said Mark Nagi, TDOT community relations officer.
Mayor Mike Werner said crews will add onto a retaining wall that was constructed after a slide occurred there a couple years ago.
"After the last slide we had, the state came in and decided they needed to fix it now," Werner said.
The current retaining wall will be extended by about 210 feet, 65 feet to the BP gas station to the south and 145 feet to the north, Nagi said.
"At the northern-most end of the new wall we'll install a cable net drape that will be secured to the rock face of the slope," Nagi said. "This will resemble what we've recently done on Alcoa Highway near the Marine Base."
Traffic is down to one lane in each direction, causing delays at the north end of the city.
"Traffic has gotten bad, especially on the weekends," Werner said. "I know it's an inconvenience but it's something that's needed to be done for a long time, and we're just glad they're doing it now because if we had a slide in the middle of the busy season it could be pretty detrimental to business."
Crews will be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the completion date.
"They're working around the clock. There's never a good time to do it, but we're glad we're getting it done now," Werner said.