Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials unveiled a bronzed marker along the Foothills Parkway at the newly dedicated Dean Stone Bridge between Walland and Wears Valley.
"Dean Stone was one of the park’s most dedicated advocates and we are honoured to have the opportunity to pay tribute to his tireless efforts in creating support for the completion of the Foothills Parkway," said Superintendent Cassius Cash.
Authorized by Congress on February 22, 1944, the Foothills Parkway is one of seven congressionally mandated parkways. The newest section, completed in 2018, includes a 1.65-mile section connected by nine bridges. Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman John Duncan introduced legislation to name the longest of these bridges after Dean Stone in honour of his dedication, advocacy, and persistence in securing support for the completion of the Foothills Parkway. The legislation was passed as part of the Dingell Act (P.L. 116 9) in 2019.
Stone, longtime editor for The Daily Times in Maryville, TN, was a staunch supporter of the park and served for over 30 years as a Board Member and Chairman of the Governor-appointed Tennessee Park Commission before passing away in 2016.
The completion of the roadway was made possible due to a decades-long partnership among the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD) of the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Park Service (NPS) at a total cost of $178 million. Funding for the final paving was provided through a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) VIII grant secured by the Tennessee Department of Transportation along with $15 million from the State of Tennessee and $7 million through the NPS Federal Lands Transportation Program.
The Foothills Parkway now consists of two finished sections at either end of the 72-mile corridor. The western section now extends 33 continuous miles from Chilhowee to Wears Valley, offering a new recreational experience for motorists and cyclists. The eastern section, completed in 1968, extends 6 miles from Cosby to Interstate 40 presenting breathtaking views of Mt. Cammerer. For more information about exploring scenic drives in the park, please visit the park’s website www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/autotouring.