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Old 01-16-2013, 03:06 PM
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Unhappy Major Landslide close 441 - Maybe for months

Great Smoky Mountains News Release



Immediate Release Contact: Molly Schroer
Date: January 16, 2013 865/436-1203


Newfound Gap Road Closed Due to Landslide


Great Smoky Mountains National Park has closed Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) due to a landslide which undercut the road near mile marker 22 between Collins Creeks and Webb Overlook at 9:40 am. The slide is estimated to be a 200 foot section of road extending 1000 foot down slope, but the full extent of the damage is not yet known. The closure is expected to be in effect for an extended period of time.


The park is evaluating the remainder of the roadway, but anticipates Newfound Gap Road will be opened to visitors from the Gatlinburg Entrance in Tennessee to Newfound Gap Parking lot as soon as it is possible. The road will be open to Smokemont on the North Carolina side.


Park staff are working with the Department of Federal Highway�s Construction and Geotechnical Services to evaluate the slide damage and to begin planning for repairs. Additional details will be released as the condition assessments are analyzed.


As of midnight, Tuesday, January 15, the park received 8.56 inches of rain measured at Cherokee, 7.4 inches at Newfound Gap and 6.86 inches at LeConte. Rivers and streams have been running fast and high since Sunday when the rains began. There are currently multiple temporary road closures throughout the park due to high water.


For the most current road closure reports, please call 865-436-1200 x 631 or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.






Caption to attached photo: A landslide along Newfound Gap Road near mile marker 22 has caused an extended closure of the road.


Molly Schroer
Public Affairs Office
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
(865) 436-1203 office
(865) 210-1983 cell
(865) 436-1204 (fax)

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Old 01-16-2013, 04:14 PM
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:13 PM
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wow, that looks like a mess
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:04 AM
flyman01 flyman01 is offline
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Wow, now I see where the name came from, that is truly a "new found gap"!!!!!
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:46 AM
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Default Same post, different board

I talked to a guy yesterday who knows a guy with the Park service who knows a guy who said - in other words, pure speculation - that the road may not be fixed until July. In truth, I don't think they have been able to get on the site to do a full inspection and make an accurate determination of the damage. On a ridge above Alarka Creek I've emptied my 4" rain gauge twice since Sunday. I understand the Nantahala at the NOC is over its banks and the big parking lot across the river is a lake. Some of the boaters who like to run the cascades on the upper Nan have deemed it too high to run. And it continues to rain.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:37 AM
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I wonder if that exposed a bunch of anakeesta. Yeah we could have more events like this in smokies and the region before this is over...
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:05 PM
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Don't know if there are any civil engineers that belong to the forum, but I'd be interested in an opinion by one as to what has to be done to correct this mess, based on the photo buzz posted. Looks like a new bridge project to me, but I'm just guessing.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:20 PM
cockeye valdez cockeye valdez is offline
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scientific wild a--- guess is: dig until suitable material to support a structure is found. N.P.S. has very specific restrictions for construction, however the agreement with Cherokee N.C. to keep the road open for gambling may trump any restrictions.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:38 PM
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So NPS has an agreement with Cherokee? That would definately play into it if so but I can't imagine them getting in a big hurry in and of themselves.

I'm trying to picture exactly where this is at, how far above Smokemont turnout?
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:25 PM
Don Kirk Don Kirk is offline
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Default Zip line needed for summer fishing access

I’m drawing on memory, so I may not have it exactly correct, but as I recall US 441 is special in that when the national park was created, the charter for the park contained specific provisions that this route had to be maintained and open to traffic as it was before the NPS took control. The same is true of the highway from the Sugarlands to Townsend. Part of that provision also prohibits the NPS from charging admission to the GSMNP via these routes, something they do at other national parks like Yellowstone. While the NPS will probably drag its feet in fixing the road—as opposed to the haste that would be applied to an I-40 landslide, it will be fixed—hopefully better than their promises for the old North Road. In hindsight the states should have attached more strings when they pony-ed, but it is what it is.
Regarding the Anakeesta exposure and the potential problems it may cause, I suppose that it is of some concern. When the first modern road was created there, cutting into the Anakeesta and exposing it was just the beginning of the problem. The big problem then was that the waste (which included the Anakeesta substrate) was crushed and used as fill during the construction of US 441. This greatly multiplied the acrid leeching process that impacted the streams. Back in the 1970s when the new road from TN to Robbinsville was under construction, there was a better understanding of the inherent problems of road construction where there is significant iron/acid substrate. When the road was cut through “hot spots,” on that particular project, at the behest of Dr. Bowers at the University of Tennessee School of Geology, much of potentially harmful fill was hauled away to prevent it from leeching into these mountain streams where there was no way to buffer its impact. As I recall, it took a hellva fight to get that done.
One can only guess when and how the NPS plans is to fix US 441, but I am confident that it will include preventative measures to minimize problems associated with Anakeesta. This is not to say that acid rock resulting from the slide will not impact the river for a period of time, but I seriously doubt it will be as it was in the old days. These rivers have bounced back from worse beatings than this one.
Perhaps a zip line might work until the road is fixed. I tried one last summer--pretty neat way to get from point A to point B.
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