The highway officially known as US 129 (SR 115), or more commonly as Deals Gap, The Tail of the Dragon, or simply as The Dragon, is an eleven-mile stretch of road in Blount Country, TN, that runs from the North Caroline State Line to Tabcat Bridge. It features over 300 turns that have made it a haven for enthusiasts on two wheels or four, but between 2010 and 2012, there were 204 crashes on that section of road. Six of those involved fatalities, but while only one of those fatalities, according to the statement below, involved a tractor-trailer, "there were a number of incidents involving large trucks."
As a result, the Tennessee DOT is imposing a ban on vehicles over 30 feet long from driving on the Dragon, with signage indicating as such to be installed in mid-January. The decision follows a similar ban enacted across the state line on the same route by the authorities in North Carolina. Head on down below for a few video clips that illustrate just how problematic the issue of trucks on the Dragon has become.
Tuesday, December 02, 2014 | 10:45 am
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – 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.