Great Smoky Mountains National Park Welcomed Record-Setting 11.4 Million Visitors In 2018

Friday, February 22, 2019

Senator Lamar Alexander on Friday praised employees and volunteers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for their work in welcoming a record 11,421,203 visitors to the park in 2018, including more than 200,000 visitors in November and December who came to experience the new section of the Foothills Parkway.

“Documentarian Ken Burns said the national parks are ‘America’s best idea,’ so the Great Smoky Mountains National Park must be ‘America’s very best idea’ because each year it attracts nearly twice the visitors of any other national park – and last year it broke its own record with nearly 11.5 million visitors,” Senator Alexander said. “According to the park, the increase is due to the opening of the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley – which is now ‘one of the prettiest drives in America.’ The scene is so magnificent that it surprises even those of us who have grown up admiring the Smokies.

Since the new section of the parkway opened in November, more than 200,000 visitors have witnessed firsthand how picturesque the drive really is.

“Those of us lucky enough to grow up and live near the park feel like we own it because our families once did, or we have adopted it as a home. We are proud that we gave this park to the country for others to enjoy – and we are grateful for the park’s dedicated employees and nearly 2,850 volunteers who make that privilege possible. This year, the park employees and volunteers -- who donated over 104,023 hours of service – had a busy year and deserve a lot of credit.”

The Foothills Parkway has been a priority for Alexander since he was governor in the 1980’s and the state Department of Transportation took the lead on a section of the parkway between Carrs Creek and Wears Valley.  As a U.S. senator, he included $17.5 million for the parkway construction in the 2005 federal highway bill.  Since then, he worked with his colleagues in Congress to help provide the funding necessary to complete the “missing link” – a 1.65 mile segment of the new 16-mile section comprised of nine bridges – and open this section of the parkway to the public. In 2016, the Tennessee Department of Transportation submitted a grant application for federal funds to complete this 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway.

 

Senator Alexander urged the Department to approve the $10 million TIGER grant request, which it did 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 provided the remaining funding necessary to finish the 16 miles. Senator Alexander attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the newly opened 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway on Nov. 9.


2nd Annual Rain Barrel Sale Now Open

Illegal Duck Hunters Plead Guilty In Loudon County Court; Fines And Court Costs Total $5,140

Star Party Set For April 6 At Cloudland Canyon State Park


The City of Chattanooga Water Quality Program announces year two of offering the Ivy Rain Barrels. The rain barrels are offered at a discounted price to encourage residents to conserve water ... (click for more)

Three hunters charged with multiple violations associated with illegal duck hunting pled guilty in Loudon County General Sessions Court on Wednesday. Stephen Giles, 50, and Justin Thompson, ... (click for more)

Star Parties at Cloudland Canyon State Park, conducted by the Barnard Astronomical Society and sponsored by the staff and friends of Cloudland Canyon State Park will be held on Saturday, April ... (click for more)


Outdoors

2nd Annual Rain Barrel Sale Now Open

The City of Chattanooga Water Quality Program announces year two of offering the Ivy Rain Barrels. The rain barrels are offered at a discounted price to encourage residents to conserve water resources, as well as to protect water quality. Also offered at a wholesale price is a compost bin. Order rain barrels or a compost bin online at http://www.rainbarrelprogram.org/chattanooga ... (click for more)

Illegal Duck Hunters Plead Guilty In Loudon County Court; Fines And Court Costs Total $5,140

Three hunters charged with multiple violations associated with illegal duck hunting pled guilty in Loudon County General Sessions Court on Wednesday. Stephen Giles, 50, and Justin Thompson, 30, both of Loudon, and Dalton Giles, 23, of Philadelphia, faced charges of hunting In a baited area, violation of the daily bag limit of Redhead Ducks (12 over limit), violation of gross ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Man Found Dead In Bradley County Early Sunday Morning; Matthew Wolfcale, 25, Arrested

Matthew L. Wolfcale, 25, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in relation to a deadly shooting in Bradley County Sunday morning. He is in custody in the Bradley County Jail. At 4:08 a.m. deputies responded to reports of a gunshot at 3515 Bates Pike SE. Upon arrival, a male victim was found deceased. A search warrant has been secured and investigators are ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Firefighters Battle 2-Alarm Blaze Involving 2 Houses On Dodson Avenue Late Saturday Night

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Saturday, Chattanooga firefighters responded to a report of a house fire on Dodson Avenue. Firefighters with Engine 5 were the first on the scene. Captain Joey Smith said two houses at 610 and 612 Dodson Ave. were engulfed in flames on the backside of the structures, and the flames were spreading quickly. Captain Smith said they took hand-held ... (click for more)

Opinion

Growth Can Continue At Ooltewah On Septic Tanks

I want to set the record straight about growth in North Hamilton County. On Feb. 21, 2019, County Mayor Coppinger called a “reset” meeting with the residents of Ooltewah/Harrison over the proposed sewer plant in North Hamilton County. In front of this community, I stood up and specifically asked the county mayor if growth could continue in Ooltewah and Harrison on septic tanks ... (click for more)

Our Roads Need To Be Repaired For Ironman - And Response

Chattanooga being a finalist for the 2021 Ironman is great news. The business gained at the local bicycle repair shops from bent rims, busted tires and warped frames should produce some great local revenue. The local physicians should see a surge as well from the twisted ankles and busted up knees from dips, humps and pot holes on our area roads that could swallow a small child. ... (click for more)