Park schedules Open House for un-opened section of Foothills Parkway

Park managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have announced that the public will be invited to an Open House on the un-opened section of the Foothills Parkway from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4, 2008.

Park Superintendent, Dale Ditmanson said, “This 9.5 mile scenicroadway was last opened to motorists in April 1998 and has been under construction nearly non-stop since then. During that 10-year period, the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration awarded and managed two contracts totaling $17.5 under which three graceful, curving bridges have been completed.”

“We are really looking forward to having our neighbors see what has been accomplished since they were last able to visit the site.” Ditmanson said. “The entire section has spectacular vistas and the bridges seem to hang suspended up to 80 feet above the ground. We believe that they will someday become icons of the Foothills Parkway much as the Linn Cove Viaduct is of the Blue Ridge Parkway.”

Motorists will enter the area via the Foothills Parkway interchange off East Lamar Alexander Parkway about 11 miles north of Maryville. Upon entering they will be greeted by graduates of “Blount County Experience Your Smokies” who will hand out safety and other information about the Parkway.

The unopened segment is a dead-end and has a gravel surface, but no guardrails, striping or signs so it is not opened to vehicles on a regular basis for safety reasons. Normally the closed section is open only to hikers, cyclists and horseback riders.

“It’s got awesome bridges and fabulous views,” Bob Miller, management assistant.

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