This Monday a significant rockslide fell onto the southbound lanes of the Spur section of the Foothills Parkway (US 441) a few hundred yards south of traffic light 10 in Pigeon Forge on the way to Gatlinburg Tennessee and experts now predict that the cleanup and stabilization of the slope could potentially take at least a month.
The rockslide between Gatlinburg and Pigeon thankfully did not cause any injuries and occurred in the off-season so the traffic affected by the detour around the rockslide is minimal right now, but will affect the tourism peak that occurs on and around Valentines Day.
Yesterday morning the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) had geotechnical engineers inspect the rockslide and their determination is that the wall or rock, earth and vegetation is still very unstable and before the roadway can be reopened to traffic, significant stabilization effort is required.
Presently TDOT will need to obtain an emergency contract to stabilize this section of the mountainside along the Spur and once the work is started will be able to offer a more accurate time in which this project can be completed.
Since the rockslide cleanup and stabilization along the spur will take so long, representatives from the Great Smoky Mountains national park and TDOT are working together to improve the traffic flow on the 1 mile detour where northbound traffic is reduced to 1 lane and southbound traffic uses 1 lane flowing south.
According to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Facility Management Chief Alan Sumeriski stated, "We are working with TDOT to improve the configuration of temporary traffic barriers and the signage to help keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible and to maximize public safety."
He went on to say "We will also be adding numerous signs in the detour area to guide residents and visitors to each of the side roads that are accessed off the Spur."
Though park rangers patrol the entire length of the Spur, the State of Tennessee owns the portion where the rockslide took place, so TDOT has sole responsibility for repairs of the slide itself.
While being restriped today there will be traffic delays along the Spur.