Newfound Gap landslide repair estimate still unknown

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - Surveyors continue to evaluate the nearly 200 foot hole left after a landslide on Newfound Gap Road Wednesday.

"It's about 90,000 cubic yards of material that washed off with the roadway. It's equivalent to about 9,000 dump truck loads if you can envision that," said Dana Soehn with the Great Smoky National Park.

The National Park Service now knows the slide was caused by over saturated ground after nearly eight inches of rain. Rangers say an active spring's also to blame.

"We were unaware of this subsurface spring that caused this embankment failure," said Acting Deputy Superintendent Alan Sumeriski.

Dirt is still moving at a landslide area inside the park, but highway teams have been able to get closer to survey the damage.

The slide took out about three football fields of roadway and officials say it could be an extended period of time before it is reopened for through traffic to Cherokee, NC.

Business owners in Gatlinburg hope that the closure doesn't hurt business. The Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau is busy trying to get the word out that there are other ways to get to Glatinburg.

"441 is often closed for snow and ice, So in this instance yes it's a landslide but we have several Other routes to go into town," Marci Claude spokesperson for the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The park service expects to announce a repair timeline and estimate late next week.

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