This project will complete another stretch of the Parkway through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Appalachian Mountains are considered the world’s oldest mountain range. They’ve been worn down by eons of rain, snow and ice. The erosion has created a web of valleys, gorges and ravines that make the vistas through the hardwood forests among the most spectacular in the world.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park encompasses a portion of the Appalachians. “The Foothills Parkway [which runs through the Park] was approved by Congress in 1944 as a companion to other National Parkway routes such as the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina…The National Parkway system was developed as part of the New Deal to help bring the economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s.” enr.com
Foothills Parkway was never completed because of the engineering difficulties involved in spanning river gorges and ravines that lace the mountains. The most challenging section of the uncompleted project is referred to as the “Missing Link”— 1.65 miles of highway requiring 10 bridges across the chasms in its path.
“Completing the Missing Link is a joint effort between the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration.” Knoxville NEWS SENTINEL
“A special feature of the bridge design is the post-tension construction that enables the bridges to curve and span long distances without touching the ground below.” Knoxville NEWS SENTINEL
Although construction has been designed to minimize the footprint and ecological impact of the work, conservationists and environmentalists are concerned that the Missing Link will cause significant damage to the environment. enr.com.
Highway and infrastructure projects like the Missing Link are good news for the construction industry. Our country needs a new New Deal to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
“Missing Link” Roadway Through Great Smoky Mountains May Finally Be Completed, Associated Press, reprinted in enr.com, Oct. 15, 2016.
‘Missing Link’ bridges on Foothills Parkway on schedule for completion in 2017, Morgan Simmons, Knoxville NEWS SENTINEL, Feb. 29, 2016.