Key segment of unfinished Foothills Parkway to receive final funding

Good news for Smokies lovers. A 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway in Blount and Sevier counties in Tennessee is a big step closer to final funding thanks to a $10 million federal transportation grant.

The unfinished section includes the “Missing Link,” an infamous 1.65-mile stretch that will require nine bridges to span a series of ravines along the steep mountain slope.

The $10 million federal grant will be matched by $15 million from the state of Tennessee and an estimated $10 million from the National Park Service to complete the up to $35 million funding package needed to open the section of the parkway between Walland and Wears Valley, said Dana Soehn, spokeswoman for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“This is much more than the continuation of the park section between Walland and Wears Valley,” Soehn said. “It will be a destination driving experience in itself.”

The Foothills Parkway runs parallel to the northern boundary of Smokies. When finished, the scenic highway will stretch 72 miles between Cosby, Tenn., to the east and U.S. Highway 129 at Chilhowee Lake to the west. Congress authorized the project in 1944, but so far only 22.5 miles are completed and open to the public.

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