A unpaved walkway at the Sugarlands Visitors Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. WBIR photo
GATLINBURG (WBIR) -
Next year the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday. A lot of the facilities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other NPS properties are showing their age.
WBIR in Knoxville reports that many long-overdue repairs are continuously delayed year after year due to a lack of allocated money in the federal budget. The maintenance backlog in the Smokies has piled up to more than $240 million in postponed construction projects.
"The Park headquarters was built over 75 years ago," said Brent Everitt, GSMNP Spokesperson. "This is one of the oldest and biggest buildings in the Park, so it obviously wasn't constructed with computers and other technology in mind. It is a historic building that has a lot of stone and slate, but the wooden parts of the building along with the heating and air systems need a lot of upgrades."
The Park headquarters rehabilitation will cost around $7 million and has been put on the back-burner for around 25 years. Next door, the Sugarlands Visitor Center is waiting for $24 million so it can be torn down and completely rebuilt to handle the million tourists who go through its doors each year.
"We do some different things to keep things running, but you can only do that for so long. A lot of these systems and facilities either need to be replaced entirely or rehabilitated," said Everitt. "In the case of the Sugarlands Visitor Center, it would cost more to bring the building up to current codes than to tear it down and start from scratch."
There are around $180 million of repairs needed to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure in the Smokies. Bathrooms are another big concern, especially at Cades Cove where the wastewater system is nearing the end of its life.
Sunday, August 20 2017 10:42 PM EDT2017-08-21 02:42:12 GMT
The Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds action comedy "The Hitman's Bodyguard" has taken the top spot at the box office this weekend with an estimated $21.6 million in grosses from 3,337 theaters according to...More
The Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds action comedy "The Hitman's Bodyguard" has taken the top spot at the box office this weekend with an estimated $21.6 million in grosses from 3,337 theaters according to studio estimates Sunday.More