If, like me, you spend a lot of time “loving” the Smokies, you benefit from the work that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made possible in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Foothills Parkway, starting in 2010.
The improved parking and overlook at the Sinks on the Little River Road, that is ARRA work. Ever hike the Little River Trail or Jakes Creek Trail or visit the Daisy Town cabins at Elkmont? Then you have benefited from the improved parking areas and repaved roads paid for by ARRA. Camped at Cosby or Smokement campgrounds? Those road improvements were paid for by ARRA. Other repaving projects included the Clingman’s Dome Road, Roaring Fork/Cherokee Orchard Road and Heintooga Ridge Road.
You can thank ARRA for $33 million toward the long-awaited new section of the Foothills Parkway and repaving of the Foothills Parkway-East.
At the time, the roads had pavement failures and cracks. In a news release from the park on April 20, 2010, Kevin FitzGerald, the park’s deputy superintendent, said, “Resurfacing these roads now will prevent us having to make much more expensive repairs a few years down the line, as well as providing a safer, more-enjoyable ride for our over 9 million annual visitors.” (Now 12 million.)
As the contracts where being awarded to companies, including ES & H based in Knoxville and Lexington Contracting, LLC of Lexington, Kentucky, and the work was being done, creating jobs and making our park better, you could follow the progress on the park website because the expenditure of funds and the work was available online so the public could be informed.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appropriated $3 billion to the Department of the Interior; $750 million went directly to the National Park Service, and $170 million for National Park Service roads was handled through the Federal Highway Administration.
This is just one example, one dear to my heart, of the good work accomplished by ARRA.