Roadwork and traffic delays between Townsend and Cades Cove

Dani Ruberti, Anne Brock # State

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Some roads in the Great Smoky National Park are getting a makeover, so expect traffic delays in the next few months while traveling to Cades Cove.

Officials announced a paving project that will start the week of Mar. 12 on Laurel Creek Road, Townsend Entrance Road and Tremont Road.

Park spokesperson Dana Soehn said,

"This is one of our most popular roadways in the park. Each year more than 2 million visitors come into the park through the Townsend entrance heading to Cades Cove."

They are working on patching, crack sealing, new signage and pavement markings over the next four months. This could affect driving, as well as parking for fishing and hiking trails off the roads.

Soehn said,

"People should be planning ahead for their hiking as well. Because it could affect some of the trailhead parking. We may have to close some of those parking lots during the construction period."

Officials said you'll see single-lane closures for up to two miles at a time on Laurel Creek Road. Single-lane closures will last for half a mile on Townsend Entrance Road and Tremont Road.

According to officials, they will make sure lane closures are clearly marked and a pilot car will help lead traffic through work zones.

In addition to this, some parking areas and pull-offs will be closed at times throughout the construction.

As needed, the folks and contractors completing the project could work during the evening and nighttime hours.

There will not be work on weekends, holidays or between Mar. 26 and Apr. 6 to avoid traffic on the busiest times and days of the weeks.

The project should be completed by Jun. 15, but this is subject to change if the weather does not accommodate.

Hike the Smokies tour guide Steve Ellis said he may have to adjust his guided hikes to fit the construction schedule. Although he rarely works in Cades Cove, he uses the nearby road to take clients to other Smokies hiking trails.

"So I'll probably start gearing more of my hikes earlier in the morning so I can avoid the peak time in the afternoon,"
he said.

If you would like more information about the road conditions, you can visit the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park website.