GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have partnered together to get New Found Gap Road open sooner than expected.
The group says an extended road closure will have a significant economic implication on the tourism-based gateway communities, so they're offering incentives to get the road open.
Park officials and the EBCI worked together to offer a monetary incentive of $ 18,000 per day to the selected contractor for each day of completion prior to May 15, 2013, up to a maximum of $500,000. The amount donated by the EBCI will apply to the first 14 days of the incentive period at the above rate.
In addition to the monetary incentives, the contract also includes monetary disincentives. The contractor will be charged $18,000 per day past May 15, 2013 to help insure the project is completed on schedule.
The park has awarded the first phase of work to APAC, Atlantic, Harrison Division, to develop an assess road to the slide area, remove debris, and stabilize the slope above the work area. Officials estimate this will cost around $200,000.
The 2nd phase of work will involve the reconstruction of the roadway and contractors can bid on the work now. It's expected to cost between $3 and $7 million dollars to get the road repaired.
Right now the park estimates the road will reopen by mid-May to early June. The park says this is a top priority project for them to complete.
Newfound Gap Road will remain closed to thru traffic during the construction, but visitors are still able to access the park to Newfound Gap from the Tennessee side and to Smokemont Campground from the Cherokee entrance.