Archived Outdoors

Smokies proposes new Foothills Parkway section

The Foothills Parkway is one of the most-used areas of the park. Joye Ardyn Durham photo The Foothills Parkway is one of the most-used areas of the park. Joye Ardyn Durham photo

Through Nov. 18, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is accepting comments on a proposal to add 9 new miles to the Foothills Parkway, extending it from Wears Valley to the spur near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

The park is currently working to prepare an Environmental Assessment for the proposed project and is also conducting public scoping to determine which topics to consider during the environmental review process.

The concept of a parkway in Tennessee near Great Smoky Mountains National Park was conceived in the 1930s, with legislation establishing the parkway signed into law in 1944 and construction beginning in the 1950s. Currently, the parkway includes 33 continuous miles from Chilhowee to Wears Valley to the west and 6 miles from Cosby to Interstate 40 to the east. Construction has not begun on the three middle sections. More than 400,000 vehicles per year visit the currently completed sections.

Expected benefits of the project include providing recreational opportunities, supporting tourism, improving the transportation network inside and outside the park and fulfilling the intent of federal and state legislation authorizing construction of the Foothills Parkway. Initial public input on the new section, Section 8D, was received during a public comment period in 2021 related to a proposed connector road from 8D to the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area. That proposal has been dismissed from consideration.

Learn more or submit a comment at Comments can also be sent in writing to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, ATTN: Foothills Parkway 8D Scoping, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. They must be submitted or postmarked by Nov. 18. There will be an additional opportunity for comment once the Environmental Assessment is released.

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