Tribal leaders in Cherokee are advertising detour routes since a landslide is blocking Route 441 from Tennessee through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
They recommend drivers take Interstate 40 eastbound to either Exit 20 or 27 in Haywood County, then take Highway 19 through Maggie Valley to Cherokee. They say the drive time from Knoxville is virtually the same. The detour means businesses in Maggie Valley will see activity they don't normally see in the winter.
Lydia Freyeisen runs the Smoky Falls Lodge. She says, “It will help us because normally this time of year it is slow but we might see more traffic especially with the ones going to Cherokee.”
Route 441 is projected to be repaired by May 15th. As incentive to get it fixed sooner, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the National Park Service are combining to offer a half million dollar incentive to the contractor who can finish repairs before May 15th. Bids for the work are due by February 15th.
By Rex Hodge