Editorial: Be patient as crews resurface a section of Newfound Gap Road

May. 27, 2013 @ 11:44 PM

We want our well-traveled roads to be smooth and rut-free, but they can’t stay that way forever. When they have to be repaired, it can be disruptive. It’s the price of progress.

A project to repave 6.1 miles of Newfound Gap Road will begin this month. This is the road that cuts through the mountains to connect Gatlinburg and Cherokee. It is scenic, popular and filled with gorgeous scenery.

This work is part of a rehabilitation project that started in 2007. The section to be resurfaced starting this month extends from Chimney’s picnic area south to an overlook approximately two 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, Va.

Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said, “In developing this contract we made every effort to minimize the disruption to visitor access to Park attractions and to our gateway communities. 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. But as usual, the park is limiting lane closures and construction during peak tourist periods. There will not be any daytime lane closures from June 15 through Aug. 15, the popular summer tourist months. 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. It needs the work. The winding, at times treacherous road must be in good shape to accommodate the thousands of vehicles that use it daily.

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. Let’s be patient and understanding as the crews do their job and delays are part of the process.