U.S. Highway 441 between Gatlinburg and Cherokee, N.C. will be closed indefinitely since a 200-foot portion of the roadbed washed away at approximately 9:40 a.m.Wednesday, Jan. 16.
An estimated 90,000 cubic yards of asphalt, roadbed, mud and trees fell some 1,000 feet down the side of the mountain. The full extent of the damage is not known, Park officials said. High waters also caused the closures of several other roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
As soon as engineers and officials determine it is safe, the part of Newfound Gap Road from Gatlinburg to Newfound Gap overlook will be reopened in Tennessee and from Cherokee to Smokemont in North Carolina.
In the meantime, motorists traveling to Cherokee will be forced to take an alternate route. The most popular detour would be Interstate 40 East into North Carolina, to Highway 276, the Maggie Valley Exit, then west to Sylva, N.C., to U.S. Highway 441 and north to Cherokee.
Another alternate route would be to travel from west of Maryville on Highway 411. Take Highway 129 through Robbinsville, N.C. Then east on Highway 19/74 through Bryson City into Cherokee.