Sunday, March 18, 2007

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Meeting on Foothills Parkway Section 8b

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is going to conduct 2 meetings 1 on March 19 and the other on March 20th in regard to a 14 mile stretch of parkway to run from Pittman Center to Cosby, Tennessee in Sevier and Cocke Counties referred to as Section 8B.

The Foothill Parkway Master Plan was prepared in 1968 as a 72-mile scenic parkway traversing the northern and western perimeters of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Foothills Parkway was designed as a 2 lane moderate speed road with scenic pull offs as it winds its way through the mountains and foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Meeting on Foothills Parkway Section 8b

As of today the 23 miles of The Foothills Parkway which is complete is one of the nicest roads in the Smoky Mountains and includes a 6 mile section running from I40 to Cosby TN and another 17 miles section connects Chilhowee Lake to Walland, Tennessee.

Presently 15 more miles of the parkway are under construction from Walland to Wears Valley, Tennessee.

One of the 3 remaining sections left to be built is section 8B (see map of the Foothills Parkway below) and in accordance with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidelines, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is currently being prepared to document all of the anticipated impacts that may occur to both the natural and human environments during the development of section 8B.

Beginning this spring a study team is going to be deployed so that they can conduct fieldwork in the proposed 8B section of the Foothills Parkway right-of-way to access and gather information on community and visual resources, natural resources, geologic resources and historic and archaeological resources.

The goal of these studies is when a new EIS is developed it can be determined what course of action can be recommended:

  • No construction to occur in the whole stretch
  • Construction of a 2 lane roadway through the entire 14-mile section
  • Construction of a trail instead of a roadway through the entire section
  • Construction of a combination of both a 2 lane roadway and trail

The 2 public meetings are so that the general public can learn more about the project and be bale to make comments about the project as well as discuss the project with the study team.

Both public meetings will present the same information and are scheduled to occur from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

The first meeting on March 19th, 2007 will be held at:
Cosby High School, 3318 Cosby Highway in Cosby, Tennessee

The 2nd meeting on March 20th, 2007 will be held at:
Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, 150 Proffitt Road in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

According to Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson "These public workshops will provide the opportunity to review various concepts that have surfaced regarding this section of the Foothills Parkway. We want the public to tell us what other concepts they think need to be considered and what concerns they may have about the possible natural, cultural, economic and other impacts."

This is only the first phase of the entire the EIS process which will take 3 years and by late 2008 a Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected by The National Park Service. It should also be noted that funding must be appropriated in order to implement any selected alternative.

Want to learn more? You can contact the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at (865) 436-1207 or check out the Foothills Parkway Section 8B Project at the national park web site at The national park service is waiting to hear from you!

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