NATIONAL PARK — Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the City of Gatlinburg maintenance crews are partnering to pick up litter along the Spur between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Tuesday, Feb. 23. In order to safely perform the roadside cleanup, single-lane closures will be implemented to protect maintenance workers along the busy roadway. Motorists should expect delays.
“We need everyone’s help to eliminate unsightly trash along the roadways,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Littering is an unthinkable act and it is particularly grievous for this to occur in our beautiful National Park.”
Park employees, volunteers, and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office Litter Patrol unit spend a considerable amount of time removing trash and litter discarded along its roads. In 2020, the Park spent nearly $19,000 on litter removal just along the Spur. This 5-mile section of roadway is traveled by over 10 million motorists annually, both north and southbound, and accumulates the largest amount of litter among the Park’s 384 miles of roads. Not only is litter an eyesore, it also unnaturally attracts bears and other wildlife close to the roadways, creating a hazard for both motorists and animals.
“The City of Gatlinburg knows that the natural beauty of our area is one of the major reasons why millions of individuals make our community a destination each year,” said Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle. “The City is very concerned about the litter issues and is willing to work with the National Park to help keep our area beautiful for everyone to enjoy.”
One of the main sources of trash along the Spur comes from people transporting unsecured trash loads from rental units or private residences to trash collection centers. Garbage bags or construction waste that blow out of trucks is often further scattered along the roadways after being hit by vehicles. Tennessee State Code 39-14-503, requires that any motor vehicle which transports litter, or any material likely to be blown off, is required to have the material either in an enclosed space or fully covered by a tarp.