Great Smoky Mountains National Park is starting four American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects to improve hiker parking areas and resurface two roads in the Park. The $12.2 million for these projects brings total Recovery Act funding for the Smokies to $77.5 million. The projects are: re-paving the Foothills Parkway-East, the Smokemont Campground and the Heintooga Ridge Road. In addition the Park will create new hiker parking areas and repave the roads leading to the popular Little River and Jakes Creek Trails in the Elkmont Area.
“All the roads to be resurfaced suffer from substantial pavement failure and cracking which allows moisture to seep into the base material where it freezes and thaws, causing the base material to crumble,” said Kevin FitzGerald, the park’s Deputy Superintendent. “Resurfacing these roads now will prevent us having to make much more expensive repairs a few years down the line as well as providing a safer more enjoyable ride for our over 9 million annual visitors.”
The Recovery Act appropriated $3 billion to the Department of the Interior. Of that amount, $750 million in funding goes to the National Park Service. An additional $170 million of Recovery Act funding will be spent in National Park Service roads through the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.
The Smokies has received more than $33 million of this funding to continue construction of the uncompleted Foothills Parkway.
Work is already underway to repave the Smokemont Campground under a $2,176,300 contract to ES & H based in Knoxville, Tenn. That campground is closed but is scheduled to reopen after the work is finished on May 27. A $1.301,847 contract was awarded on April 6 to Lexington Contracting, LLC of Lexington, Ky., to pave three parking areas and to repave all the connecting roads between the Little River Trailhead and the Elkmont Historic District. During the early phases of construction visitor access to Jakes Creek and Little River Trails will be provided, but the area will be closed between July 6 and August 31 when safe passage can no longer be possible through the construction zone.
Contracts are for the repaving of the Heintooga Ridge Road and the Foothills Parkway East in Cocke County, Tenn. are presently in the solicitation phase.
Details on all of the park’s Recovery Act and other facility and road construction projects are available at the Park’s website at: www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit.
The Recovery Act funds are part of a stimulus package that is an important component of the President’s plan to jumpstart the economy and put a down payment on addressing existing challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century. Under the Recovery Act, Interior is making an investment in conserving America’s timeless treasures - our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage - while helping American families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians, employing youth and promoting community service.
“With its investments of Recovery Act funds, the Department of the Interior and its bureaus are putting people to work today to make improvements that will benefit the environment and the region for many years to come,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said.
Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery. Secretary
Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior’s Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.