National Park Service invests $11 million to improve Newfound Gap Road at Gatlinburg entrance

GATLINBURG, Tenn.—Great Smoky Mountains National Park received approximately $11 million in funding from the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund to rehabilitate a two-mile section of Newfound Gap Road near Gatlinburg. The rehabilitation project will include single-lane closures starting as early as April 15. 

“We greatly appreciate the support from the Great American Outdoors Act in getting this major project funded,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “This has been one of our priority projects for years and will help ensure safe visitor and community access at one of the busiest road sections in the park.”

Project overview:

  • Rehabilitation of Newfound Gap Road from the Gatlinburg boundary to the gate just past the Fighting Gap Creek intersection near Sugarlands Visitor Center.
  • Rehabilitation of Sugarlands Riding Stables entrance road and parking area with two new Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standard (ABAAS) compliant parking spaces.
  • Rehabilitation of River Road and parking area near the park entrance and Gatlinburg Trail.
  • Rehabilitation of roadside paved parking areas in the two-mile section.
  • Reconstruction of Park Headquarters Road.
  • Rehabilitation of the Gatlinburg Bypass Bridge closest to Newfound Gap Road.
  • Rehabilitation of park entrance sign parking, which will include a new sidewalk and a designated ABAAS parking space.
  • Repair stone masonry and drainages and replace timber guardrails.

Closures and what to expect:

  • Single-lane closures will start the week of April 15 while the contractor installs temporary traffic signs and erosion control.
  • From June 15 through August 15 there will be no daytime closures. There will be no construction work on weekends or national holidays.
  • To reduce impact to daytime traffic, the contractor is required to complete much of the work during the evening hours. Motorists should be prepared to encounter construction work 24 hours a day between Sunday evenings and Friday mornings. 
  • River Road between Newfound Gap Road and the park boundary and the parking area at the Gatlinburg Trail will be closed to vehicles throughout the project. Pedestrians will be able to access the trailhead via a short detour. Some parts of the Gatlinburg Trail will close during the project for visitor safety. 
  • The commercial vehicle turnout south of the park entrance sign will also be closed. Commercial vehicles that enter the park without permission will follow detour signs and be directed to turn around at Sugarlands Visitor Center parking. 
  • Rehabilitation of the Bypass Bridge will require 20 days of single-lane closures, followed by a full closure for four days. Another news release will announce the timing of that closure.
  • Construction is anticipated to end by September 27. 
  •  Road and trail closures and current information will be posted on the park website. 

The work is part of a parkwide Great American Outdoors Act project to rehabilitate Lakeview Drive, Newfound Gap Road, Heintooga Ridge Road and Balsam Mountain Campground Road.

The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) is part of a concerted effort to address extensive deferred maintenance and repair needs in national parks. Supported by revenue from energy development, GAOA provides the National Park Service with up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and enjoyment for current and future visitors.  

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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