Smokies, Cherokee offer up to $500k prize for finishing road repairs early

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) -- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are together offering up to $500,000 for the early completion of repairs to U.S. 441.

The road was closed between Newfound Gap and Smokemont in January after a landslide took out a 200-foot section.

According to a news release from the park, an extended road closure will have a significant economic impact on the tourism-based gateway communities around the park.

The park and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are offering $18,000 per day for each day of completion prior to May 15.

Newfound Gap Road is closed to through traffic during construction.

Visitors can travel as far as Newfound Gap from the Tennessee side and Collins Creek Picnic Area from the Cherokee, N.C., entrance.

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