Today the National Park Service hosted a ceremony commemorating the final construction phase of the Foothills Parkway from Walland to Wear’s Valley that has been almost three decades in the making.
“I am looking forward to seeing the hard work of everyone involved in this project come to life as finishing touches are put in to place that will help showcase the beauty of our region to locals and visitors alike,” Congressman John Duncan said.
In April 2016, Congressman Duncan personally wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to express support for the NPS’ application for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant that would help meet the budget requirements for this phase.
Since the $10 million dollar TIGER Grant was awarded to the Foothills Parkway last July, the $35 million dollar project can now be completed with $10 million in funds from the NPS and $15 million from the State of Tennessee. Congressman Duncan helped obtain $27 million for the parkway through various transportation and appropriations bills. To actually utilize the funds, a state government or non-federal entity must contribute 20 percent of the cost.
Since the State of Tennessee purchased the right-of way for the entire 72 mile stretch, Congressman Duncan convinced the Federal Highway Administration to consider the value of the land as the 20 percent non-federal match that would allow construction to continue with the procured federal funds.
The 72 mile long parkway project was authorized by Congress in 1944, but conceptualized in the late 1920’s. To date, 22.5 miles have been completed which include a 5.6 mile section in Cosby and 17 mile section from Walland to Chilhowee Lake.