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Contact: Bob Miller, (865) 436-1207
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent, Dale Ditmanson, has received word that the nation's most visited national park is slated to receive $64,006,150 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The bulk of the money is targeted towards road work, but the Park's trails, cemeteries, public restrooms, and other buildings will also be improved.
"This is about eight times what the Smokies receives in an average year for projects of this type." Ditmanson said. "We look forward to making improvements in the Park's infrastructure and improving the experience of those using Park facilities as well expanding job opportunities in our neighboring communities."
The Park expects to receive more than $1.2 million to hire trail workers to make improvements to 22 miles of eroded horse trails in Tennessee and 10.4 miles of trails in North Carolina, as well as to restore 61 historic cemeteries in North Carolina.
Contracts totaling $259,000 will be awarded to paint and reroof numerous buildings throughout the Park. Contracts will also be issued to perform over $4 million worth of improvements to public restrooms in campgrounds and picnic areas to make them handicapped accessible.
Approximately $25 million will be available to repave and rehabilitate four areas: the 9 mile-long Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and Cherokee Orchard Road near Gatlinburg, the seven mile Clingmans Dome Road, just south of Newfound Gap in Swain County, NC, the Cosby Campground in Cocke County, TN, and the popular parking area locally known as "The Sinks" along Little River Road.
The largest single project to be funded with ARRA money will be design and construction of a 1,200 foot long section of the Foothills Parkway extending westward from the Parkway's intersection with U.S. 321 in Wears Valley. That work is expected to cost almost $34 million and includes construction of an 800 foot-long bridge, the longest single structure to be constructed along that section of the Parkway.
"Under provisions of the ARRA all these funds have to either be spent or obligated by September 30, 2010, so we are moving as quickly as we can to get these projects moving." Ditmanson said. "We have already hired nearly all of the new temporary Park employees and expect to have some contracts out for bids within the next couple of months."
The Park has already hired its own temporary workers to work on the projects. Most of the jobs are expected to be created in the private sector as employees of a variety of contractors. All of the contracts planned for award by the Park are announced at http://www.fbo.gov