Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Update on Road and Facility Projects in Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced new completion dates for several construction projects that are underway to improve park roads and facilities. Severe winter weather conditions and delays in awarding certain contracts have resulted in revised work schedules and opening dates for some of these projects. Many rehabilitation projects, with funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and previously-authorized Federal Lands Highway Program funds, are underway or are soon to start. Extensions of original completion dates have been granted for several of the construction projects as indicated below:

Clingmans Dome Road – Set to open on Saturday, June 19. When the road opens, repaving work will continue on the lower 3 miles of road with one lane closures and flaggers through July 2.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail – A new completion date is to be determined (previously set to open May 28). The work involves resurfacing the 5.6 mile road with asphalt concrete pavement and will include resurfacing all existing parking areas, trailheads, and roadside pullouts.

Heintooga Ridge Road - Set to open Friday, May 28. When the road opens, repaving work will continue with one lane closures and flaggers through August 31.

Balsam Mountain Campground – Set to open on or before Thursday, June 17. Note: Campers should begin checking the status of the campground opening on the Park’s website the week of June 7. The 45-site campground is being repaved.

Sinks Parking Area along Little River Road – Set to open Monday, June 28. The majority of the project involves construction and reconfiguration of the parking area and a new handicap accessible observation platform to view the waterfalls.

Gatlinburg Bypass – The repaving project is on hold and a new construction schedule will be determined.

In addition to the above, the following work is on schedule and provides a snapshot of other projects affecting public use at different levels of disruption:

Foothills Parkway (Blount County) – The road is open, however motorists can expect single lane closures and flaggers with minimal delays. The resurfacing/paving project will be completed on Wednesday, June 30.

Foothills Parkway (Cocke County) – The repaving of this road will begin in late May and is scheduled for completion on Tuesday, August 31. Note: During this period of construction, the road will be closed to all public use for a four week period. The dates of this closure have not been determined but will be posted on the park’s website.

Little River and Jakes Creeks Trailheads – The trailheads will be closed from July 6 through August 31 and will affect trailhead parking. Due to the lack of available trailhead parking, visitors are advised to utilize other Park trails during this period. The trailhead work will result in paved parking spaces.

Newfound Gap Road between Collins Creek Picnic Area and Cherokee, N.C. – This repaving project is slated to be finished in early January 2011.

Smokemont Campground – Set to open Friday, May 28. The 142-campsite is being repaved.

In addition, the construction of bridge 2 on the unopened segment of the Foothills Parkway on the Sevier County end of the “Missing Link” began this spring. All public use (walkers, cyclists, and equestrians) is now prohibited since heavy construction equipment will be traveling the roadway.

Improvements to the Cosby Campground and Cades Cove Loop Road have been completed, as well as the painting and/or reroofing of 65 comfort stations in picnic and campground areas.

The park’s website is the best source for obtaining up-to-date information on the status of the projects and opening dates of facilities and how each project may affect visitor access to certain areas, i.e., trailheads. The site also provides a map outlining the project areas with details on the type of work being accomplished.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

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