The state of Tennessee has finally done what anyone who's driven on the Tail of The Dragon assumed was common sense: banned big rigs from the road.
Anyone in the know is familiar with U.S. Route 129 (aka Deals Gap). The 11-mile stretch boasts some 318 curves and it's a beacon for drivers and riders, alike. But for years, navigation systems pointed truckers to the Dragon as a shortcut to cut across Blout County. That ends next month.
After a safety review, the state is now banning any vehicles longer than 30 feet from the road, and signs announcing the restrictions will be put up mid-January.
Here's the full announcement from the Tennessee DOT:
Truck Restrictions on "The Dragon" in Blount County; Limits for commercial vehicles longer than 30 feet on US 129 (SR 115)
Following the completion of an operational and safety review, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has determined that vehicles over 30 feet in length will no longer be allowed to utilize a mountainous section of US 129 (SR 115) in Blount County, known as "The Dragon."
From 2010 to 2012, there were 204 total crashes from the Tennessee/North Carolina State Line to Tabcat Bridge (Log Mile 11.19) in Blount County, with six of those involving fatalities. This is considered a critical number of crashes based on the type of road and number of vehicles per day on this facility. While only one of the fatal crashes involved a tractor trailer, there were a number of incidents involving large trucks. Due to the curvy and narrow roadway, incidents involving tractor trailers usually block the highway for several hours and prevent travel for all motorists.
Signage detailing these restrictions will be installed in mid-January. TDOT has coordinated these efforts with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Blount County law enforcement.
North Carolina has similar restrictions for truck traffic on US 129 from the Tennessee/North Carolina State Line to the Graham (NC) County Line.
For travel and TDOT construction information, visit the TDOT SmartWay web site at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway/. Motorists are reminded to use all motorist information tools responsibly. Drivers should refrain from texting, tweeting or using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle.
And some videos to bolster the case: