Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the main access roads into Cades Cove and will be closed for several months this winter for road construction projects.
Laurel Creek Road, the seven-mile access road leading from the Townsend Wye to Cades Cove will be closed to all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians from Jan. 3 through Feb. 29 to repair the Bote Mountain Tunnel. The full closure, beginning just past Tremont Road, is necessary to allow equipment setup for the repair of the internal drainage system in the walls and ceiling of the 121-foot long tunnel. Crews will enclose and heat the tunnel, allowing the temperature-sensitive repairs to be conducted during the winter months when visitation is lower. Intermittent single-lane closures will be necessary between March 1 and June 15 to complete the tunnel repairs and to re-pave the tunnel area.
The Cades Cove Campground, normally open during the winter months, will be closed Dec. 30, 2019 through March 5. To accommodate winter campers, Elkmont Campground will remain open year round along with Smokemont Campground in NC.
The Bote Mountain Tunnel, constructed in 1948, has not had any significant rehabilitation work since that time. Crews will replace nine drainage chases requiring track-mounted saws to cut through the concrete liner along the arc of the 18-foot high tunnel opening. Cracks throughout the tunnel will also be sealed and repaired. Without repairs, leaks will lead to compromised concrete walls and the development of ice hazards during the winter months.
For more information about road closures, follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on twitter or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm.