Construction begins on landslide repair project in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The road remains close as crews work to repair the roadway.
"We made a trip up to Clingman's Dome, so we have a picture of that. We wanted to do a before and after picture and hopefully we can get up there. We spent some time in Cherokee, so we wanted to get over to Cherokee and relive the memory," said George and
GATLINBURG (WATE) - The next step of a major road repair project began Friday in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A 200-foot section of roadway and hillside washed away, severing Highway 441 also known as Newfound Gap Road.
Even with snow on the ground at the site, construction crews got to work.
"Our contractors, Phillips and Jordan, are on site today, mobilizing equipment. They're bringing in excavators and bobcats. They're setting up some erosion control measures, along with getting some of that baseline survey work completed, so they'll be able to tackle this project," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn.
The road closure has affected park visitors, some of whom didn't know about the detour.
"I saw the signs, but I thought, 'Oh, maybe they'll make an exception,' so I kind of headed this way to see as much as I can," said visitor Dustin Bingham.
One couple visiting the park says they spent their honeymoon up in the area around where the landslide occurred and they say now, they may just have to come back in May.
"We made a trip up to Clingman's Dome, so we have a picture of that. We wanted to do a before and after picture and hopefully we can get up there. We spent some time in Cherokee, so we wanted to get over to Cherokee and relive the memory," said George and Kathy Hoskins, who will celebrate their 25th anniversary in May.
Reopening the road is a high priority for people on either side of the landslide.
"Our neighbors in Cherokee have been able to provide us with the incentive to the contractors. If they are able to finish the project early, for each day they end early, before May 15, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, they will pay $18,000 a day," Soehn explained.
If the project is not complete by May 15, the contractor will be charged $18,000 per day after that.