Public input wanted for proposed Foothills Parkway projects

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – That National Park Service announced they were seeking public input for the proposed construction of an upcoming section of Foothills Parkway and access improvements in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park between Wears Valley and the Metcalf Bottoms area.

A civic engagement public comment period about the construction/improvements will be available from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. The information obtained during this period will be used to identify and refine design elements and alternatives under consideration.

There will be a virtual meeting available to the public to discuss the proposed projects and answer any questions on Thursday, Oct. 14 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. A spokesperson said participants are advised to join the meeting five to ten minutes early to adjust any issues. Participants are also welcome to call in on listen-only mode by dialing (312) 626-6799 and entering Webinar ID 856 4513 5682.

The proposed Foothills Parkway section would extend for almost ten miles from Wears Valley to the Spur near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The update would provide direct access to a primary entrance to the park, a spokesperson said.

In addition to comments about the extension, the NPS also wants input about how to develop better access to the Metcalf Bottoms area to address safety concerns along Wear Cove Gap Road, improve the visitor experience and protect park resources.

“We are pleased to offer this opportunity to inform the public about the planning process and to receive input on these important projects,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “With growing visitation trends, considering these improvements is imperative in helping assure safe vehicle access to the park.”

The public will have two ways to submit comments for consideration:

  • Online (the preferred method) at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/Section8D. Select “Open for Comment” on the left menu bar, open the Foothills Parkway Section 8D/Metcalf Bottoms Newsletter folder, and click on the green “Comment Now” button to access the online commenting form; or
  • By Postal Mail to Great Smoky National Park Section 8D/Metcalf Access Civic Engagement at 107 Park Headquarters Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Written comments will have to be postmarked by Oct. 31 to be considered, according to officials.

For more information about the proposed Foothills Parkway Section 8D/Metcalf Bottoms Access Improvement projects, visit their official planning website.

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