WALLAND, Tenn. — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park said it has extended a road closure on a portion of the Foothills Parkway as it repaves a popular 17-mile stretch.
Repaving and rehabilitation work on the Foothills Parkway West between Chilhowee Lake and Walland began March 14 and will last into 2023. Work will include repaving, restoring guardrails, repairing bridges and drainage, and replacing asphalt walkways with ADA-compliant concrete sidewalks.
The work will require two sections of the parkway to be closed to all traffic in phases from the Look Rock Observation Tower parking area south of Maryville, beginning with the Chilhowee Lake side. On May 19, the park announced the first closure would need to be extended out nearly a month to June 17:
- From March 14 to June 17, the roadway will be fully closed from the Look Rock Observation Tower parking area west to the Highway 129 intersection near Chilhowee Lake
- From June 20 to August 31, the roadway will be fully closed from the Flats Road intersection near Look Rock to the Highway 321 intersection near Walland.
The GSMNP said the remaining construction work will require single-lane closures from August 31 through May 5, 2023. Motorists should expect some delays.
The scenic stretch of parkway provides access to 16 overlooks.
The park is using $31 million in federal funding to pay for the project. That money is coming from the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan National Park Legacy Restoration fund that former U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) championed for years before former President Donald Trump signed it into law in 2020.
The conservation legislation pulls revenue from energy development to provide up to $1.9 billion a year for five years to pay for park upkeep and address a large backlog of maintenance at National Parks.
"GAOA funding supports a focused effort to address the most critical maintenance needs in the Smokies and other national parks across the country," the National Park Service said. "This project will reduce more than $25 million in deferred maintenance associated with the Parkway, support 400 jobs, and contribute $85.5 million to the nation’s economy."