Latest Gatlinburg News
Newfound Gap Road Open to Thru Traffic
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the completion of road repairs to Newfound Gap Road (Hwy 441). The road has been closed since the January 16th landslide that washed away approximately 200 feet of the road. At 10:00 am on April 15, the Park officially opened the road to all thru traffic between Cherokee, NC and Gatlinburg, TN.
Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, NC Congressman Mark Meadows, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Michell Hicks, and Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) Construction Operations Engineer Emmett Melton jointly announced the opening of the road this morning 30 days ahead of the scheduled completion date of May 15, 2013. The National Park Service, FHWA, Phillips & Jordan, Inc. (P&J), APAC Harrison Division, and all subcontractors worked cooperatively in the most efficient and expeditious manner possible to restore Hwy 441 to a safe byway for the traveling public, the gateway communities, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The primary repair contract was awarded to P&J for the submitted bid of $3,989,890.00 with the completion date set at May 15, 2013. The contract included a monetary incentive of $ 18,000 per day to the each day of completion prior to May 15, 2013, up to a maximum of $504,000 offered jointly by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian (EBCI) and the National Park Service.
“We recognize the economic importance of the road to our neighboring communities and are grateful that our partners at Federal Highways Administration and were able to respond efficiently to our need and work with the contractors to make the necessary repairs in less than 90 days,” said Superintendent Ditmanson.
APAC Harrison Division completed Phase 1 of the reconstruction project on February 21, 2013 by developing the access road to the slide area, removing of debris, and stabilizing the slope above the work area. P&J mobilized equipment on February 22, 2013 to begin Phase 2 of the reconstruction project which included rebuilding the roadway and filling the area washed away during the landslide with crushed stone.
The final design includes over 200 feet of pipes to allow for the drainage of subsurface water flow along with 150 feet of side drainage leading to a culvert at the end of the slope. This drainage system and pervious crushed stone material will further protect the road and park resources from future damage due to both overflow and subsurface water flow. The fill area was naturally sloped and planted with seed. In addition, erosion measures were put into place along the 900 foot debris field below the landslide which was also seeded.
For the most current road conditions, please call 865-436-1200 x 631 or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.
Forbes Touts Gatlinburg As One of America’s Prettiest Towns
All of us are aware of how special this place we live in really is. Now, Forbes.com has noticed, ranking Gatlinburg among the Prettiest Towns in America, along with such places as Newport, Rhode Island; St. Augustine and Key West, Florida; Taos, New Mexico; and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The website created the rankings with input from sources such as National Geographic and The Travel Channel. To see the listings, please visit their website.
"With its charming, quaint old buildings in the center of town, its dramatic mountain backdrop and the only ski resort in Tennessee, Gatlinburg has become a popular tourist destination for regional fun-seekers. Located on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg benefits from its location as a tourist draw and reinforces it with attractions such as an aerial tramway, an aquarium, whitewater rafting, hiking, and even a haunted house. But let’s not kid ourselves: as pretty and irresistible (as) the town is, the real draw in this part of Tennessee is the nature. 'The wildflowers around Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are absolutely spectacular in the spring as they burst with wildflowers at their peak,’ says Zain Habboo, National Geographic's director of travel." Forbes.com
"We are very thrilled with this honor from Forbes," said Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle. "We are blessed to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and we take pride in being the gateway community to the country’s most-visited national park. It truly is a wonderful place to enjoy.”
The City of Gatlinburg is completing the sixth phase of its Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project. Since the late 1990s, Gatlinburg has been burying utilities underground and improving the aesthetics of the downtown area, something that Ogle says takes the cooperation of the City, the business community and residents.
“Of course, it has taken a lot of people doing a lot of good things to allow us to earn this lofty recognition,” said Ogle. “It's been a great public-private collaboration of dedication that has dramatically improved the aesthetics of the Parkway and helped us blend in with the Smokies.”
Come to Gatlinburg and see for yourself!
Links to www.forbes.com:
Gatlinburg Convention Center is Honored with ConventionSouth’s Prestigious Annual Readers’ Choice AwardIt is with honor that the publishers and editors of ConventionSouth, the national multimedia resource for planning events in the South, present Gatlinburg Convention Center with a 2012 Readers’ Choice Award.
“ConventionSouth readers have nominated and voted to decide the best meeting sites in the South, and it is no surprise to us that Gatlinburg Convention Center has been selected to receive our annual Readers’ Choice Award,” said ConventionSouth Publisher J. Talty O’Connor. “The value in receiving this prestigious recognition is that it comes from the United States’ top meeting professionals who book events held in the South. These planners demand the highest level of customer service and quality facilities, and they have contributed in determining that Gatlinburg Convention Center indeed displays the commitment to professionalism, creativity and service that they require.”
Gatlinburg Convention Center is among 100 convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs), meeting facilities and hotels located across the South to receive this year’s Readers’ Choice Award. Throughout the year, meeting professionals nominated the meeting sites they believe provide exemplary service for group events. The nominated properties were then compiled onto an online ballot where meeting professionals were asked to vote for the best of the best. More than 1,500 voters participated this year in the selection process.
This is the first year that Gatlinburg Convention Center has received this award, making it an even greater honor to?present it with a 2012 Readers’ Choice Award. Gatlinburg Convention Center will be featured as an award?recipient in the December 2012 Awards Issue of ConventionSouth magazine. This exciting issue will also?showcase some of the most talented meeting professionals in the nation as ConventionSouth also presents I planners with its annual “Meeting Professionals To Watch” designation. “Featuring peer advice and trade secrets from our Meeting Professionals to Watch in 2013, our Awards Issue is one of the most popular must-read resources within the meetings industry,” O’Connor said.
Celebrating 30 years as a leading meeting planning resource, ConventionSouth magazine is based in Gulf Shores, Ala., and is distributed to more than 18,000 meeting professionals located across the country who book meetings held within the South, according to O’Connor.
A complete list of award winners can be found online at: http://www.conventionsouth.com/2012_readers_choice_awards.htm
South End of Parkway Enhanced By Completion of Undergrounding Phase
At long last, Phase VI of the Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project is substantially complete. And in the opinion of many of those parties involved, the lasting improvements were worth the inconveniences.
The section of Parkway extending from the Gatlinburg Convention Center to the boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park now features the same aesthetic upgrades which enhance much of the rest of Parkway, including new streetlights, public sidewalks and furnishings, all without the clutter of utility lines and poles.
“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of the business community on the South end of town as well as our residents and visitors,” said City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle. “It has been a long, challenging undertaking which has required some sacrifices, a good bit of tolerance and a lot of faith, but I believe everyone can agree that the change in the look and feel of the entire project area is quite dramatic.”
The difficult, detailed process of transforming the area began in mid-August of last year. At approximately 1,850 feet in length, Phase VI is the largest single Underground Phase to date. It included the construction of underground duct banks to house electrical, telephone and cable television lines on both sides of Parkway. Water and sewer improvements were also encompassed in the project.
The replacement of the steel bridge at the intersection of Parkway and Leconte Street was one of the most challenging components of Phase VI, including the widening of the turning radius from Parkway to Leconte Street.
The Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project was a joint effort of the City, the design firm Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon, Inc., the contractor Efficient Electric, and local utilities involved in the undertaking.
New street lighting, benches, trash receptacles and signage are strategically placed along the street and new sidewalk has been installed on public right-of-ways. Several planters have been placed to accommodate seasonal plantings and small trees.
Distinctive crosswalks will be installed in the area in mid-July with updated signage also still to be added.
Including the $7.8 million that covers both design engineering and construction costs of Phase VI, the City of Gatlinburg and business community have now invested approximately $24 million in the Underground Utilities and Streetscape Project, dating to the late 1990s with the development of the original master plan and Riverwalk/Aquarium area.
Property owners in the Phase VI area will be assessed 20 percent of the cost, approximately $1.52 million, which may be paid over a 15 year timeframe or on a lump-sum basis.