Thursday, January 28, 2010

Park to improve detour around Spur rockslide

Great Smoky Mountains National Park managers and officials from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) met Tuesday to develop plans to improve the traffic flow and safety of the mile-long detour that carries southbound US 441 traffic around Monday night’s rockslide. Currently the south-bound traffic is being diverted onto one of the two lanes that normally carry north-bound traffic, creating two-way traffic flow.

The slide occurred on the portion of the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Spur which is owned by the State of Tennessee, so TDOT has sole responsibility for repairs of the slide itself. The rest of the 5 mile-long Spur, including the detour area, is part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so the two agencies are working jointly to manage traffic during the closure of the south-bound Spur which TDOT believes may last a month or more.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Facility Management Chief Alan Sumeriski said, “We are working with TDOT to improve the configuration of temporary traffic barriers and the signage to help keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible and to maximize public safety. Motorists can expect to encounter back-ups on the Spur while TDOT adds yellow striping and reflective pylons to keep opposing traffic separated on the two-way section of the Spur. We will also be adding numerous signs in the detour area to guide residents and visitors to each of the side roads that are accessed off the Spur.”

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