Alexander: Smokies’ Missing Link Is “So Picturesque, It Is Worth The 75-Year Wait”

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Senator Lamar Alexander on Thursday said at the groundbreaking ceremony for the final project to complete the "missing link" of the Foothills Parkway, "if you want to see the Smokies, you’ll drive the Foothills Parkway because it’s the only road that gives you such a spectacular view of the highest mountains in the eastern United States. The missing link is so picturesque it is worth the 75-year wait."

The "missing link" is a 1.

65 mile section comprised of nine bridges that will complete 16 miles of parkway between Walland and Wears Valley adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

The senator said, “The story of the Foothills Parkway began nearly 75 years ago– only a few years after the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created in 1934 -- when Tennesseans petitioned the National Park Service and Congress to build a new parkway outside the Smokies to help with traffic and offer visitors scenic views of the mountains. Congress authorized the new parkway in 1944, but prohibited the use of federal funds to purchase the right-of-way.  The state of Tennessee began acquiring land for the right-of-way for the new parkway in 1947 and continued until 1979.  All of the right of way was donated to the federal government, and construction of the parkway began in 1960.  According to the National Park Service, approximately $146 million has been invested in this uncompleted 16 mile section of the Foothills Parkway since 1966. And additional money was still needed to complete the project."

The National Park Service, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have worked diligently to secure funding to complete and open this additional 16 miles of the Foothills Parkway. Sen. Alexander said, “The Foothills Parkway has been a priority for me ever since I was elected to the Senate in 2002, and I’m glad we’re making progress.”

In April of last year, the Tennessee Department of Transportation submitted a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant application to fund the completion of this 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway. Alexander sent a letter to then U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in April 2016 urging the Department to approve the $10 million TIGER grant request. The U.S. Department of Transportation approved the grant on July 26, 2016. The state of Tennessee committed an additional $15 million in funding to complete the project. The National Park Service Federal Lands Transportation Program will provide the remaining funding necessary to finish the 16 miles. 

Alexander made his remarks today at the groundbreaking ceremony for the final phase of construction to complete the “missing link” in the Foothills Parkway – marking the completion of the 16 miles of Parkway extending from Walland to Wears Valley, which is expected in 2018. The senator joined Congressman Phil Roe (R-Tn.), Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash, and members of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to celebrate this milestone.

Sen. Alexander said, “The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States, has a tremendous economic impact in East Tennessee. The completion of this 16-mile section -- extending from Walland to Wears Valley -- of the Foothills Parkway will bring tourists and jobs to East Tennessee. Congratulations to Governor Haslam, the National Park Service, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and other state and local officials for their hard work and vision in creating this great new addition.”

Sen. Alexander gave special praise to the late Dean Stone, former editor of the Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times. “No one was a stronger advocate for completing the parkway than Dean Stone, and no one would be more pleased to see the missing link finished than Dean."

The Foothills Parkway was originally planned to run 72 miles from Chilhowee Lake to I-40. The project was divided into eight sections, and currently, only three of the eight sections are completed, totaling 22.5 miles. Even after the new 16 miles covering two additional sections of the parkway are completed, there will still be another three sections covering 33.5 miles of the parkway from Wears Valley to Cosby that will remain unfinished. Of the seven congressionally-mandated parkways, the Foothills Parkway is the only one not yet completed.



New State Record Blue Catfish Beats Previous By More Than 12 Pounds

A day of fishing is good. A day you catch a new state record – and beat the old one by more than 12 pounds – is great! Richard Barrett is the new state record holder for the blue catfish. His catch, weighing 93 lb, 0 oz, beat the previous 2010 record of 80 pounds, 4 ounces, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.   Mr. ... (click for more)

Master Gardeners Of Hamilton County Offer Free Gardening Classes

The Master Gardeners of Hamilton County (MGHC), in association with the University of Tennessee Extension, extend their outreach with a series of Third Saturday Free Gardening Classes.  On Oct. 21, from 10 a.m.-noon, master gardener Bertha Livingston leads “Children in the Garden,” a workshop for adult/child partners.  MGHC classes take place at the UT Extension, ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain To Hold Public Meetings On Idea Of Setting Up Own School System

Discussion about follow-up public meetings regarding the Signal Mountain School System Viability Committee (SMSSVC) report dominated the council’s work session on Friday afternoon. Council member Dan Landrum’s opinion about how to proceed differed from the other four council members. Mr. Landrum argued to end the study and to hold no public meetings. His reason was that of the 738 ... (click for more)

Man Shot Multiple Times In Cleveland; Jesus Teague, 14, Is Arrested

On Saturday, at 6:12 a.m., Cleveland Police Department responded to 1210 Elrod Place SE in reference to a domestic disturbance.   A man sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Erlanger by Life Force. His condition is stable, at this time.   The suspect, Jesus Tyler Teague, 14, was located and was in custody as of 3:25 p.m. ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Myth And Fact Check

My husband and I recently had the privilege of participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Chattanooga. I listened as my husband told the audience about how his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was nine and how she died from the disease when he was fourteen. As a child, my husband didn’t understand what breast cancer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Bill Pennington, a sports writer for the New York Times, was lamenting the “huddle” is slowly disappearing in football due to the faster pace of the game and, during his search for more information, he called former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. Bill wrote that Joe couldn’t stop laughing about the funny things that would happen between plays. Joe told this story: ... (click for more)