Bryant’s Land and Development Industries Inc. of Burnsville finished the $950,000 tunnel repair along Laurel Creek Road ahead of schedule, allowing the popular area to reopen in time for the first full weekend of the spring break season. The Cades Cove Campground will reopen on March 5.
“Cades Cove is one of the most popular destinations in the park and we are pleased that visitors will have the chance to enjoy it this weekend,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We appreciate the special efforts of the contractor to complete the job safely and ahead of schedule.”
Intermittent, single-lane closures will be necessary between March 1 and June 15 to re-pave the tunnel area. Motorists should expect weekday delays during the paving operations. This work will not occur on weekends, federal holidays or the week before and after Easter.
The 121-foot long tunnel, constructed in 1948, had not had any significant rehabilitation work since that time. Crews replaced nine drainage chases using track-mounted saws to cut through the concrete liner along the arc of the 18-foot high tunnel opening. Cracks throughout the tunnel were also sealed and repaired. Crews enclosed and heated the tunnel, allowing the temperature-sensitive repairs to be conducted during the winter months when visitation is traditionally lower.