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Today, the federal government approved a ten million federal transportation grant that will improve access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The money will help complete a 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway in Blount and Sevier counties, improving access to the park and "enhancing tourism and economic development" in East Tennessee, according to a supporter of the grant, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

Alexander continued, "I grew up hiking, hunting and fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains, a national and Tennessee treasure. Completion of this 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway will help the Smokies' more than nine million visitors from around the world experience the park more easily and have greater access to panoramic views of the mountains."

In April, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) submitted a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant application to fund the completion of a 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway. The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced the grant has been approved.

The Foothills Parkway was authorized by Congress in 1944 and still remains unfinished. The National Park Service, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Tennessee Department of Transportation have worked diligently to complete the Foothills Parkway. The state of Tennessee and the National Park Service have already committed funding to match this grant and to ensure the 16-mile section of the project is fully funded.

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