As a means to create jobs and revitalize communities, Congress began The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Earlier this year, $900 billion was dispensed in stimulus money in order to boost local Economies.
Among the $900 billion, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) received $64 Million of this money. Contracts will be awarded in August so that projects aimed at improving facilities, trails and roads will get underway at summers end. Approximately $8 Million of that money will be used for those projects.
According to Superintendant Dale Ditmanson, the stimulus money will create approximately 1500 jobs in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.
The project will be split into two phases, the first phase aiming to make small improvements to trails and roads, and the second phase will include an overhaul of facilities.
The Cosby Campground, in Gatlinburg, TN is set to close early this year to allow work to begin. It will reopen in May 2010.
Ten trails and sixty historic cemeteries will also benefit from the stimulus money. Comfort stations will also be remodeled allowing for handicapped accessibility.
Stimulus money will be used to fund bridge building and a road expansion project on Foothills Parkway. The Federal Highway Administration and the GSMNP are partnering and have been extending Requests for qualifications to contractors for this project.
Several buildings the GSMNP will be painted and some may receive a new roof.
Most of the stimulus money will be spent in the fall and winter on projects that have been set to begin while the parks are in the offseason or closed.
Pothole filled roads and trails, such as Roaring Fork Motor Trail in Gatlinburg, TN, will be repaved as well.