A 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway in Blount and Sevier counties is a big step closer to final funding thanks to a $10 million federal transportation grant.

The unfinished section includes the "Missing Link," an infamous 1.65-mile stretch that will require nine bridges to span a series of ravines along the steep mountain slope.

The $10 million federal grant will be matched by $15 million from the state of Tennessee and an estimated $10 million from the National Park Service to complete the up to $35 million funding package needed to open the section of the parkway between Walland and Wears Valley, said Dana Soehn, spokeswoman for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"This is much more than the continuation of the park section between Walland and Wears Valley," Soehn said. "It will be a destination driving experience in itself."

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