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Businesses react to NPS plan to fix US-441 after landslide

11:21 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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Some Gatlinburg businesses are happy to hear about the National Park Service's plans to repair a major road in the Smokies that was washed away after a landslide.

Two-hundred feet of US-441 fell down an embankment just west of Cherokee, North Carolina in early January. The National Park Service said it expects to have that section of road fixed by early June.

During the winter, businesses in Gatlinburg are accustomed to seeing less business as tourism typically drops after the New Year's holiday. With that taken into account, the Royal Townhouse Motel on the Parkway said it was worried the landslide could be eating into some of its business.

"I was concerned because a lot of the business we get comes from north Georgia, North Carolina, places where people use that route to get primarily from Gatlinburg to wherever they're coming from," said Royal Townhouse employee Erik Mauldin.

However, Mauldin said he was glad US-441 would be opening sooner rather than later.

"I feel a lot better knowing it's going to be then [June] and not a year from now or not longer," he said.

A restaurant, Best Italian on the Parkway, even said it saw its business drop more than 10 percent last weekend.

Marci Claude, a spokesperson with the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau said the department was not sure just how much commerce the landslide would cost Gatlinburg.

"In Gatlinburg, we are accustomed to having weather related road closures," she said.

10News also contacted the Eastern Band of Cherokee to see how they are dealing with the slide.

Tribal Council Member David Wolfe said US-441 is an important to Cherokee business. He said Cherokee has yet to make projection as to how the landslide will affect the community and Harrah's Casino.

"If they [the park] can get it [construction] done by May, with the damage that was done, that would help us all out on both sides," he said.

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