Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) which runs from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, NC reopened Monday, April 15 following a three month closure. The road was closed due to a January landslide that washed away a 200-foot section of pavement.
Work on the road was actually completed a month ahead of time, and as a reward for finishing the job early, contractors Phillips and Jordan Inc. will receive a $500,000 bonus, funded by the National Park Service and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The contract awarded to Phillips & Jordan, Inc. in January, totaled nearly $4 million and included incentives totaling $8,000 per day that the project was completed ahead of the May deadline.
In re-constructing the damaged section of Newfound Gap Road, engineers installed pipes to allow for the drainage of subsurface water flow along with side drainage leading to a culvert at the end of the slope.
Heavy rainfall and an underground stream combined to loosen thousands of tons of rock, soil and trees in January. It was estimated that 9,000 dump truck-loads of dirt, rock and road slid 45 feet down the side of the mountain.
A subsurface spring underneath the road was believed to be the mitigating factor for the landslide, in addition to the heavy rain that had poured over the area for a number of days. Between Monday and Wednesday the week of January 14, nearly 8 inches of rain were said to have fallen in the area.