Phillips & Jordan Inc. of Robbinsville, N.C., won the contract Feb. 20 and started immediately to replace the 200-ft section of US 441 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that was wiped out by a landslide.

First comes an access road to the bottom of the site and removing 27,000 cu yds of excavation, then filling the football-field-size slide area with 40,000 cu yds of crushed stone that will be “sandwiched” in 1.5-ft layers between layers of geogrid, said Dudley Orr, vice president of Phillips & Jordan.

The fill area will run 275 ft along the mountainside to replace the roadway lost and other pavement removed for the repairs, he said.

The fill area also includes a drain pipe, encased in an aggregate base, to handle subsurface water.

A previously-unknown underground spring and three days of heavy rain were blamed for the Jan. 15 slide, which closed the two-lane highway — known as Newfound Gap Road — that carries 6,000-7,000 vehicles daily between Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Cherokee, N.C.

Phillips & Jordan will work seven days a week — and double shifts if needed — to make or beat the May 15 completion date, Orr said. The contract is for $4 million.

The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation and the National Park Service are offering an $18,000-per-day early completion incentive, up to a maximum of $500,000, because of the economic impact of the road closure on the tourist-driven communities.

The contractor faces an equal penalty for missing the May 15 date.