The managers at the Great Smoky Mountains national park will be making a 1 hour presentation on the alternative schedules and construction phases to repave the badly worn Cades Cove Loop Road.
The 11 mile Cades Cove Loop is badly in need of repair and has been for years. The national park plans to repave the road in early 2010 and has worked with engineers at the Federal Highway Administration to formulate various construction scenarios and will be presenting at this meeting that advantages and disadvantages of the various scenarios they have narrowed it down to.
Obviously major construction on the Cades Cove Loop will hamper visitor access to the road as well as connecting hiking trails, Parsons Branch Road, Rich Mountain Road, Forge Creek Road, historic buildings and the Cades Cove Visitor center.
The Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson is welcoming any of the public's "questions about the various alternative concepts and the construction methods under study".
Mr. Ditmanson stressed that this meeting is not to address broader planning of the Cades Cove area transportation alternatives or any potential facility changes. According to Mr. Ditmanson these potential changes and issues will discussed at future public meetings.
While the national park hopes to make changes in Cades Cove in the future, who knows how our present national economic crises as well as lower GSMNP visitation will affect funding for future GSMNP projects.
The surface of the Cades Cove Loop road is deplorable as well as some of the pull offs. This road must be paved to avoid further damage to visitor's vehicles and reduce the obvious hazard to the personal safety of hikers and bikers.
Unfortunately the National Parks track record on the last few construction projects in the GSMNP such as on the Spur, along Little River Road at Indian Rock and Sparks Lane have not been completed on time.
Besides the completion delays, the Spur was resurfaced with materials and a process that was inferior to original specs in an effort to rush completion. Hopefully the Spur project was completed at a far lower price than what the superior process and materials would have cost had they waited until the specialized crews and the equipment were available.
Concerned locals as well as businesses that depend on tourism should attend the Cades Cove paving plans presentation that will take place at the Townsend Heritage Center next Thursday the 13th from 5:30 to 6:30 pm.