Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that geological work will be performed to stabilize a large rock face along Little River Road for a two-week period, May 5-19. Road restrictions will be in place on Little River Road, including an 8-day closure between the Townsend Wye (near Townsend, Tenn.) and Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area from May 12-19.
The Little River Road is an 18-mile drive between the Sugarlands Visitor Center (near Gatlinburg, Tenn.), and the Townsend Wye. Entry to Cades Cove through the Townsend entrance is unaffected.
The prominent cliff, locally named Indian Head Rock for its resemblance to the profile of a human face, was weakened during a weather event in October 2006 which triggered a landslide of large-sized boulders and debris onto this narrow portion of road. Federal Highway Administration geological engineers assessed the condition of the rock fac and recommended stabilizing the precipice using rock dowels and filling in large cracks with polyurethane resin to reduce continuing erosion.
A $386,360 contract was awarded to Rembco Geotechnical Contractors, Inc., of Knoxville, on April 3, 2008, to perform the stabilization work which is scheduled as follows:
• Monday-Thursday, May 5-8, the two-lane roadway through the construction site will be reduced to one lane of traffic by flaggers.
• Friday-Sunday, May 9-11 (Mother’s Day Weekend), no work will be conducted and the road will be fully operational.
Little River Road Closure--two
• Monday, May 12 at 8 a.m. - Monday, May 19, ending at 8 p.m., the section of the Little River Road between the Townsend Wye and Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area will be closed. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be allowed to access a section of the closed road on the east end from Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. They will be permitted to travel about 2 miles to the Sinks waterfalls area, but will not be allowed past that point through the construction site. Visitors should be aware that Park maintenance activities will be ongoing on this section so they should be cautious and keep to the right of the road.
The west end section of Little River Road at the Townsend Wye will be closed to all use.
Cades Cove, Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, and Elkmont Campground will be open, but depending on direction of travel, a detour may be necessary to access those areas.
• To Cades Cove -
From Townsend - Access to Cades Cove is unaffected via Laurel Creek Road.
• To Elkmont Campground -
From Townsend: Visitors, in standard passenger vehicles, can enter the Park at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area via Lyon Springs Road and U.S. 321 and travel east on Little River Road. RVs, buses, and vehicles with trailers are prohibited from detouring through Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area because of the one lane bridge with a tight turn and a 10-ton weight limit.
Large motor vehicles must use the U.S. 321 and U.S. 441 detour route through the Gatlinburg entrance.
The Park’s information phone line includes an automated message on road closures. Visitors should call 865/436-1200 to receive status on Little River Road.