U.S. 441 through park should reopen by May 15

Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is expected to be repaired and open by May 15 in time for the busy summer travel season.

The Federal Highways Administration has just awarded a nearly $4 million contract to Phillips & Jordan Inc. of Robbinsville. The contract has a May 15 completion date.

Last week, the company prepped to begin work on phase two of the reconstruction project, which will include rebuilding the paved roadway and filling the area washed away during the landslide with crushed stone. The design will allow for the drainage of water, which will protect the road and park resources from future damage.

The contract stipulates the company could earn bonus money of up to $18,000 per day for each day the project is finished before the May 15 deadline, up to a maximum of $500,000. This was offered jointly by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian and the National Park Service. Likewise, the contractor will be charged $18,000 per day past May 15

Newfound Gap Road will remain closed to thru traffic during the construction, but visitors are still able to access the park to Newfound Gap from the Tennessee side and to Collins Creek Picnic Area from the Cherokee entrance.  

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