September 10, 2018
Tampa and I had the wonderful privilege yesterday of joining with several others for a sneak-peak atop the new section of Foothills Parkway. We were joined by Cassius Cash, Superintendent of the National Park, and project managers and engineers, whom have been working of the project for several years, along with many other “Friends of the Smokies”. We stopped on the new Bridge 5 for a champagne toast and celebration while taking in some of the incredible views of the mountains. I spent many days working on this project in 1982 and was thrilled to see the near finished job. It will be open to the public sometime around Veterans Day.
November 12, 2018
Yesterday I took my first drive on the newly opened section of the “Foothills Parkway” in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And this morning, just after daylight, I drove it again. This is one of the prettiest 15 mile drives anyone could ever take, especially this time of year. Fall colors are just beyond their peak but still very beautiful. If you have yet to drive this road, stop what you’re doing, get in your car and head that way right now! I know it’s raining but you will be amazed at the beauty of this scenic roadway. I feel privileged to have worked on this project back in 1982 now that I can see the amazing results of completion. Although that wasn’t what I was thinking when our core drilling crews were blazing their way thru that mountain for the first time. We spent many difficult hours cutting dozer roads, dragging our large core drill buggy and water tank truck thru the woods as well as doing the difficult core drilling. But I must admit we also had some fun times driving our jeep up, down and around that mountain to reach our work sites. One of our favorite sayings was, “Some people would pay a lot of money to take jeep rides in these mountains, but we are getting paid to do it!”. I see a lot of completed roadway and bridge projects that I recall working on over my 47 year career with TDOT, but none come close to the outstanding beauty of this new roadway. Hurry and go look for yourself!
Here are a few photos of before and after. I remember this particular drilling like it was just last week. This was our first attempt at something like this.