October 25, 2018
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials plan to open the long-awaited section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley, TN on Saturday, November 10. The public will be able to experience the entire 16-mile roadway for the first time since construction began in 1966, including the 1.65-mile section known as the ‘Missing Link’ which is now connected by a series of nine bridges.
“We are grateful to the visionaries in the 1930s who conceived the idea of a parkway and to the countless people who have tirelessly worked since then to complete this spectacular section,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We can’t wait for people to experience the unparalleled views offered along this new Smokies destination.”
The completion of the roadway was made possible due to a decades-long partnership among the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD) of the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Park Service (NPS) at a total cost of $178 million. Funding for the final paving was provided through a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) VIII grant secured by the Tennessee Department of Transportation along with $15 million from the State of Tennessee and $7 million through the NPS Federal Lands Transportation Program.
The Foothills Parkway now consists of two finished sections at either end of the 72-mile corridor. The western section now extends 33 continuous miles from Chilhowee to Wears Valley, offering a new recreational experience for motorists and cyclists. The eastern section, completed in 1968, extends 6 miles from Cosby to Interstate 40 presenting breathtaking views of Mt. Cammerer.
Park officials plan to invite the public to preview the parkway by foot, if conditions permit, before it opens to motorists. This pedestrian opportunity is tentatively planned for Thursday, November 8 during the morning hours utilizing a shuttle operation. More details will be provided by Friday, November 2 to help prepare people for this special opportunity.
For more information about exploring scenic drives in the park, please visit the park’s website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/autotouring.htm.