Delays possible as bridge repair work begins in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Cades Cove Loop Road Source: Google Earth

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Construction begins Monday on a project to replace or repair more than a dozen bridges in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and officials are cautioning visitors about possible traffic delays and trailhead closures.

Forge Creek Road Bridge. Photo: Great Smoky Mountains NPS

Forge Creek Road, off the Cades Cove Loop near the visitor’s center, will be closed Nov. 2 through May 27, 2021 to replace five bridges. Due to the complete removal of the bridges and the use of large equipment to perform repair work, the road will be closed to all users so there will be no access to Henry Whitehead Place or the Gregory Bald Trailhead, a park official said.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded two construction contracts totaling $4.3 million to replace seven bridges and repair seven others in the park. Repair work includes replacing damaged rails, repointing masonry, sealing cracks, and repairing deck joints. The work will continue through January 19, 2022.

Bridges in these other areas are scheduled for repair over the next year, as well, and a park spokesperson said visitors should expect single-lane closures in these areas:

  • Gatlinburg Bypass, two bridges
  • Little River Road, two bridges
  • Elkmont area, two bridges
  • Park Headquarters area, one bridge

This winter, the park will announce dates for a month-long full closure of the road leading to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead and the road leading to Smoky Mountain Stables to fully replace bridges in those areas when the schedule is finalized.

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