Author Topic: Tennessee Partners with National Park Service to Complete Foothills Parkway  (Read 2837 times)

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Offline dpippin

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today applauded the award of a $10 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to the Tennessee Department of Transportation to complete construction of the last 16 mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway. The state will contribute an additional $15 million in funds toward the $35 million total project cost, with the National Park Service contributing the remaining $10 million. Once finished, the Foothills Parkway will provide a continuous 33 mile connection to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“Over these past 70 years, the National Park Service, Federal Highway Administration, and the State of Tennessee have worked together to construct this valuable asset which has served to enrich tourism, economic, and development in communities throughout East Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Tennessee is once again proud to be working with the National Park Service in the completion of the Foothills Parkway.”
The Foothills Parkway was constructed in sections beginning in 1960. Due to funding limitations and environmental challenges, a 16 mile stretch was never completed. Work to construct several bridges along this section began in the late 1990s. Final pavement and safety feature design work began in 2013 and is now ready for construction. The last project will include paving, and the installation of roadside barrier and other safety features.
“Great Smoky Mountains National Park appreciates the work and support of both the Governor’s Office and Tennessee Department of Transportation in securing funds needed to complete the construction work on the unfinished 16 miles of the Foothills Parkway,” said park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We are excited this park project will contribute to the economic growth of Blount and Sevier Counties by expanding on the regional transportation system already developed in East Tennessee. We are thrilled to soon be able to share the parkway’s spectacular mountain vistas with the millions of visitors who travel to our region each year.”
The extended parkway will provide a link for public and privately owned tourism amenities and surrounding communities, as well as to new and existing destinations along the parkway itself.
“Completing this section of the Foothills Parkway will move forward one of the most critical tourism projects in East Tennessee,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer added. “It would not have been possible without the strong and committed partnership between the state and the National Park Service.
Construction on the final stretch of the Foothills Parkway is likely to begin in early 2017, and is expected to take 12-18 months to complete.
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Offline HawkGTRider

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My parents always dreamed of having a cabin in the mountains, and they eventually achieved that goal with a little place a few miles east of Pittman Center in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Up the hollar from where our place was, several of the local folks were displaced by the purchase of land in the 1960s and 1970s for the Foothills Parkway. These folks came as close as you've ever seen as being honest-to-goodness hillbillies. The kids typically didn't wear shoes except to school (if and when they went) or to go get some supplies that couldn't be gotten any other way or in the winter. One old guy, John Greene (no relation to our family) ran a moonshine still. We found out about that when we saw in the local Sevier County newspaper that there had been a bust on Butler Branch Road, and the traffic that had been pretty regular for several months going by our cabin on up the hollar went to near zero immediately. One guy that wasn't a "hillbilly" had built a nice little A-frame at the very end of the road, and his land was taken as well. The church near the end of the road, I think it was called Black Gum Gap Methodist Episcopal Church, was also closed due to the land being needed for this project.

I'd love to see the entire length of the Foothills Parkway be completed as it would seem to make sense after seeing all those hillbilly and other families displaced. Alas, the section between Wears Valley and Cosby doesn't seem to have ever been started. In the Knoxville News Sentinel, it was reported that "Of the seven congressionally mandated scenic highways throughout the United States, the Foothills Parkway is the only one that remains unfinished." I think it's time to finish the entire length of the road. I think another nice little ~70 mile stretch of highway through the mountains would be just fine.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2016, 11:43:08 PM by HawkGTRider »
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Offline Patmo

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The western part of the FP is one of my favorite roads in that area.  I've heard for years that the rest of it was about to be finished and am still waiting.  Looks like it's going to be a reality this time.  My only fear is that the new part will probably end up carrying a lot of traffic from people seeking to get to the touristy areas from the Knoxville area.  But that may keep a lot of the traffic that now clogs up Littte River Rd off it, and that would be a good thing.
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Offline Brick

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Excellent! I think this is great!
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