GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Tunnel repairs and a lane closure are on the horizon for drivers on the Gatlinburg Spur in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

One northbound lane, from Gatlinburg into Pigeon Forge, will close in January until April for crews to work on a tunnel, park officials announced Monday. The speed limit will be reduced and motorists are asked not to honk their vehicle horns for the safety of workers.

Drivers along the northbound Spur can expect to see concrete barriers along the center line of the tunnel beginning Tuesday, Jan. 3. The concrete barriers will protect crews making repairs within the closed lane while also allowing traffic to travel in the open lane.

Park officials also said that in order for workers to complete the work efficiently, the lane closures will be in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the construction period that runs from Jan. 3 through April 7, 2023.

An example of lane closures for the Spur Tunnel. (Photo courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

Crews will be replacing drains, cleaning and painting the tunnel interior, replacing sodium lights with new LED lights, installing a new lighting control system on Huskey Grove Road and will also install a propane-powered generator for emergency backup. GSMNP says to prepare for the tunnel repairs, crews have already staged equipment and have begun installing infrastructure to support the lighting control system on Huskey Grove Road.  

“We are doing everything we can to expedite the project and minimize the impact on our local communities,” Barbara Hatcher, Facility Management Division Chief, stated in a GSMNP news release. “While the single-lane closures will cause temporary delays, the repairs are necessary to address water leaks and lighting improvements.”  

Throughout the project, Smokies officials say that motorists should expect traffic delays, drive with extra caution in work zones and follow traffic control signage.

For more information about temporary road closures, please visit the park’s Current Road, Facility, Trail & Backcountry Updates webpage. 

More about the Spur Tunnel repairs

According to GSMNP, the Federal Highway Administration had awarded a $10,284,135 construction contract to Bryant’s Land Development of Burnsville, N.C. for the repairs, which should fully conclude by June 5, 2023. Then, the National Park Service incentivized the contract by providing an opportunity for the contractor to earn $10,000 per day, for up to 45 days before April 7, for early completion of the repair work that requires the single-lane closure on the Spur.