WALLAND, Tenn. (AP) - Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating the start of the final paving project in the Foothills Parkway.

A park news release says an event Thursday commemorated the start of the last initiative for the uncompleted 16-mile section of road between Walland and Wears Valley.

Once completed, Superintendent Cassius Cash says the road will offer a 33-mile corridor with access to spectacular views of the mountains.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation secured a $10 million federal transportation grant for the project. Gov. Bill Haslam's administration has committed to an additional $15 million.

The Foothills Parkway was constructed in sections beginning in 1960. The 16-mile stretch went uncompleted due to funding and environmental issues.

Construction is slated to begin in spring and take 12 to 18 months.

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