Park, Cherokees offer $500,000 incentive for Newfound Gap repair
From Staff Reports
Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) have partnered together to offer an early completion incentive for repairs to Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441), which was closed due to a January landslide.
Park officials and the EBCI are offering an incentive of $18,000 per day to the selected contractor for each day of completion prior to May 15, 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.
EBCI Principal Chief Michell Hicks and Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson recognize the importance of Newfound Gap Road as a vital economic artery linking the North Carolina and Tennessee communities, as well as its importance to park visitors who enjoy the unique driving experience, according to a park news release.
“We are grateful that our Cherokee neighbors offered to match the National Park Service $250,000 incentive proposal in order to motivate the contractor to complete the rehabilitation of the road as efficiently as possible,” said Superintendent Ditmanson.
In addition to the monetary incentives, the contract also includes monetary disincentives. The contractor will be charged $18,000 per day past May 15 to help ensure the project is completed on schedule.
The contracting piece for phase 2, involving the actual road reconstruction, was initiated on Jan. 25 when Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) posted a presolicitation for contractors with interest in repairing the landslide. Through this process a number of successful contractors submitted acceptable technical proposals and are now eligible to submit a bid for the project. Bids from these contractors are due Feb. 15. The contract for this phase of work is estimated to cost between $3 million and $7 million. Final construction work will begin soon after.
Phase 1 of the reconstruction project is on schedule. Phase 1 contract crews from APAC–Atlantic Harrison are building the haul road, stabilizing the site and removing debris to prepare the site for Phase 2 reconstruction.
Soil erosion mitigation efforts to stabilize the debris field and minimize siltation into Beech Flats Prong stream have been completed. In addition, Park biologists have completed all environmental compliance associated with the road reconstruction.
Newfound Gap Road will remain closed to through traffic during the construction, but visitors are still able to access the park to Newfound Gap from the Tennessee side and to Collins Creek Picnic Area from the Cherokee, N.C., entrance.