Monday, April 27, 2009

State Byway status for entire length of Newfound Gap Road

Officials from Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced today on the park website that Newfound Gap Road has now been designated as a State Byway by both Tennessee and North Carolina. Newfound Gap Road (US 441), is the 34-mile link between Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC.

Earlier in the month, it was announced that the North Carolina section of the road was granted the designation. Now, Tennessee has followed suit.

In the press release, Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson stated that this is an important first step in applying for National Scenic Byway designation through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Designation as a State Scenic Byway or a National Scenic Byway makes the route eligible for grants through the FHWA for such projects as: roadway enhancements, recreation facility improvements, road shoulder improvements, and vista clearing/maintenance projects. In addition, funding could be used for protection of historical, archeological and cultural resources along the road and in areas adjacent to the road. In fiscal year 2008, $40 million in grant money was available nationwide for this program. FHWA provides 80 percent funding for eligible projects and requires a minimum 20 percent match for approved projects.

Again, I have to ask, why did it take so long for both states to grant this designation? It seems this should have been done along time ago!


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

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