Landslide closes Newfound Gap Road

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The National Park Service closed Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) after a landslide undercut a section of the road between Collins Creek and Webb Outlook. That's in North Carolina.

The length of road is 90,000 cubic yards, which is as long as a football field.

Crews are examining the rest of the roadway, so the road is closed from the Gatlinburg entrance to the Newfound Gap parking lot. Park officials are hoping to reopen that stretch as soon as possible.

In North Carolina, it will stay open until Smokemont.

Park staff are working with the Dept.of Federal Highway's Construction and Geotechnical Services to evaluate the slide damage and begin planning their repairs.

They said by midnight Tuesday, the park received over eight and a half inches of rain at Cherokee, 7.4" at Newfound Gap, and 6.86" at LeConte. Rivers and streams have been running high and fast since the rains began.

As crews clean up the park roads, restaurants and businesses hope people on the other side of the mountain can find a different way to get to Gatlinburg.

"Anybody who lives over on that side, people from North Carolina and South Carolina, anybody who would like to drive through the mountains to get over here rather than come over the freeway," said Sue Bock, who works at Park Grill Steakhouse.

This is already one of the slower time of the year in the Smokies. But with holiday weekends coming up, businesses were counting on more people. But the road closing could mean smaller crowds, and profits.

"We were really looking forward to the weekends because that's one of our bigger bumps that we get at this time of year, and then Valentine's Day is the next bump we'll get," said Bock.

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