Businesses hopeful as completion of scenic Smokies Parkway nears

Businesses hopeful as completion of scenic Smokies Parkway inches closer

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Officials cut the ribbon on Bridge 2. Officials cut the ribbon on Bridge 2.
"It's going to be a great service for the community, first of all it's going to help us tremendously," said Daniel Breazeale, an employee at the BP station right at the end of the future parkway. "It's going to be a great service for the community, first of all it's going to help us tremendously," said Daniel Breazeale, an employee at the BP station right at the end of the future parkway.
"[The parkway] was one of the reasons we chose the location," said Shepperd, owner of GSM Outfitters, a new camping and outdoors store. "[The parkway] was one of the reasons we chose the location," said Shepperd, owner of GSM Outfitters, a new camping and outdoors store.

WEARS VALLEY (WATE) - A scenic parkway that runs along the northern border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one step closer to completion.

Officials cut the ribbon Monday on Bridge 2 of the Foothills Parkway near Wears Valley.

The bridge is a big milestone on the way to complete the roadway.

Once finished, it will give motorists access to scenic vistas of the park between Chilhowee and Cosby, spanning Blount, Sevier and Cocke counties.

The project was authorized by Congress in 1944. But while sections were completed between Chilhowee and Walland on the western end and Wears Valley and Cosby on the eastern end, the pieces were never connected.

Now, officials are one step closer to closing the 1.6-mile gap, something businesses at the Wears Valley end say can't come soon enough.

"It's going to be a great service for the community, first of all it's going to help us tremendously," said Daniel Breazeale, an employee at the BP station right at the end of the future parkway.

The BP is one of dozens of businesses at that end of the much anticipated parkway.

"They do need to speed it up a little, but time is effort," Breazeale said.

Michael Shepperd just opened shop on Wears Valley.

"[The parkway] was one of the reasons we chose the location," said Shepperd, owner of GSM Outfitters, a new camping and outdoors store. "I'm extremely confident that it would bring a large portion of business to us and the other companies around us as well."

Monday, Congressman John Duncan, representatives from Congressman Phil Roe and Senator Lamar Alexander, members of the Federal Highways Administration, local government and tourism officials, and government contractors joined National Park Service officials to cut the ribbon at the head of the 800-foot bridge.

The project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Federal Lands Transportation Program, and multiple Federal Highways Appropriations.

The remaining work involves paving and other roadway work, but has not received federal funding.

The park hopes to have the paving project completed and the Foothills Parkway opened by the centennial of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2016.

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