I have noticed that over the past few days one of the keywords that is still driving people to this blog is Cades Cove. Living in East Tennessee, I am very fortunate to live so close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove, a very popular spot in the Smokys, was slated to have the loop road resurfaced from March 1 – May 21, 2010. Trails affected by this closure are Abrams Falls, Cooper Road, Gregory Bald, Gregory Ridge, Hannah Mountain, Indian Grave, and Rabbit Creek trails. The campground, the campground store, the picnic area, and the horseback riding stables will remain open, though bicycle rentals will not be available. (The store and stables don’t open until April 1st.) The last time Cades Cove Loop road was repaved was 1978… over 30 years ago. It is in bad need of repair and truthfully needs to be wider and marked better for pull over spots. You can read more about the scheduled work at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cades-cove-road-improvement.htm.
This work was to be completed under a Highway Trust Fund. Today was supposed to be the first day the road was completely closed to traffic so workers could being work on it. However, there is a funding shortfall as a result of KY Senator Jim Bunning who blocked legislation last week that included the Highway Trust Fund. Thus, there was an ordered furlough today of over 2,000 federal employees… including the federal inspectors that are overseeing the Cades Cove Loop repaving. No inspectors… no work can be done. So while today was supposed to be the first full day of work on the Cades Cove Loop road, the work has stopped and the road remains closed. I just gotta wonder how long this funding issue will keep the road closed. Hopefully we don’t have another Road to Nowhere brewing. Cades Cove is just too popular to be left closed. In the meantime, enjoy this nice picture of a deer and the traffic that goes along with it.
EDIT: The bill passed the next day and work resumed on March 3. Hopefully the work can still be completed by May 21, 2010 if not sooner.