WASHINGTON (WVLT) -- On Thursday, May 10, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) spoke with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about the National Park Restoration Act, which Alexander said will bring more travelers to East Tennessee.
Sen. Alexander introduced the legislation to help address more than $11.6 billion of maintenance backlog in the nation's 417 national parks, including the $215 million backlog in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
On Thursday, Sen. Alexander thanked Sec. Zinke for visiting the park and the "missing link" of the Foothills Parkway in April. Sec. Zinke said Thursday,
"There is no doubt that America is going to want to be on that road [the Foothills Parkway] and see the majesty of that valley."
Sen. Alexander asked Sec. Zinke in Thursday's Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing what the chances were for success in dealing with the backlog using the legislation.
“I’ve talked about how our public land experience in this country is not a Republican or Democrat or Independent issue – it’s an American issue and there are certain things that should transcend bipartisanship even in the current political atmosphere,"Sec. Zinke said.
"There is no doubt that America is going to want to be on that road [the Foothills Parkway] and see the majesty of that valley. That's going to incur a larger maintenance issue on the existing roads, and our parks are being loved to death. That road alone will increase visitation because I think every American is going to want to go on that road. It is an epic completion of a long project, but it is a gorgeous, magnificent, majestic scenery on that road.”