A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Saturday to mark the beginning of the new arch’s construction, attracting approximately 80 attendees who witnessed the historic moment. The public’s response to the fundraising efforts has been overwhelmingly positive since the arch committee received official approval in July. Impressive progress has been made, with $184,000 already raised out of the required $200,000 for the project. The original arch, which proudly proclaimed Waynesville as the “Gateway to the Smokies,” was removed due to deterioration nearly fifty years ago.
To establish the arch’s foundations, concrete drilling will be employed, although the ceremonial groundbreaking did not involve the use of a jackhammer. Instead, a symbolic mound of sand was placed on the sidewalk. During the event, eight members of the soon-to-be disbanded Downtown Waynesville Association ceremoniously wielded shovels, resulting in enthusiastic cheers from the gathered crowd.
This arch will stand as a lasting tribute from the Downtown Waynesville Association (DWA), a key driver of downtown revitalization since the 1980s. With the changing of the guard last year, downtown management responsibilities were handed over to the newly established Downtown Waynesville Commission, an entity directly linked to the town. Notably, no public funds will be allocated for this endeavor.
Spanning a width of 60 feet to extend across Main Street, the arch’s footers will be positioned on the outer edge of the sidewalk, allowing pedestrians to walk underneath it. The arch will reach a height of 26 feet at its tallest point, offering a clearance of 21 feet at its midpoint, gradually tapering to 17 feet at the curb, and 13 feet above the sidewalk. The Department of Transportation mandated a minimum clearance of 17 feet for any part of the arch that extends over the road.