Settlement Ends Long Fight to Stop Highway Through Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Based on a 1943 agreement made during World War II, the National Park Service began in the 1960s building a replacement road for Swain County along the north shore of Fontana Lake, but abandoned the project after only seven miles due to severe erosion and acidic runoff that wiped out fisheries in several streams.
A number of county residents continued for decades to push for completion of what came to be known as “the Road to Nowhere.” In 2001, the threat became critical when local Congressman Charles Taylor forced the issue by securing $16 million in the Transportation Department appropriations bill for construction of the road.
NPCA reacted with a long-term plan to end this threat to the park once and for all. NPCA's Southeast Regional Office created and managed the Greater Smoky Mountains Coalition. By working with local communities, regional allies and at the national level with Congress, NPCA built considerable momentum for a settlement in lieu of building the road.
In 2010, after years of negotiations, congressional input, and hundreds of letters written from supporters just like you, the issue finally reached a conclusion. Congressman Heath Shuler (D-NC) of western North Carolina announced a settlement that ends the proposed road through the most remote, wild area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
As Don Barger, Senior Director of NPCA’s Southeast Regional Office noted, “This is one for the history books. The wildest region of the park will stay wild, and future generations will be able to experience its isolation and grandeur.”
- Learn more about our Southeast Regional Office.
- Learn more about Great Smoky Mountains National Park.