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Surveying at Newfound Gap

Newfound Gap Surveying Services
Location: Tennessee - North Carolina

High-Traffic Roadway

Newfound Gap Road, stretching from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to Cherokee, North Carolina, is the primary access road connecting the two destination cities nestled on the edges of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The two-lane road carries a high traffic load and is one of the highest elevation roads in the Park. The Federal Highway Administration and the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division have embarked on a multi-year endeavor to rehabilitate Newfound Gap Road, repairing damages from climatic impact and the age of the park.

Decade of Surveying Services

Barge Waggoner has provided surveying services that have been ongoing since 2003 and it represents one of the more challenging projects for survey crews. Since the road cannot be closed completely at any time, and carries one of the highest traffic volumes in the park, crews employed 3D laser scanning capabilities to achieve selected objectives without placing crew members in traffic (scanner image above). Additionally, because the road is within the national park, the crew is prohibited from cutting or destroying any vegetation; therefore, many line-of-sight survey shots cannot be accomplished in a traditional manner and the 3D laser scanner was employed to work around this restriction.

Survey Challenges

Rappelling skills are not usually seen on the resumes of surveyors, but the Barge Waggoner crew working on the Newfound Gap Road had to train in rappelling safety since many drainage pipes were located hundreds of feet below the road surface on the face of the mountain. Steep walls, bluffs, drop-offs, and narrow shoulders are standard features of the 16 miles that span between Gatlinburg and Newfound Gap, and make the project even more challenging.