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Excellence in Highway Design

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Category 6 - Structures Costing Less Than $10 Million

Honorable Mention

Foothills Parkway (Missing Link)
Sevier County, Tennessee

Photo showing construction of one of the bridge abutments on the steep slope.Photo showing the bridge as it curves along the hillside.

The objective was to construct a parkway that provided scenic and inspiring panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The design and construction of the Bridge 8 — a small, but critical, portion of the Foothills Parkway — was complicated with a 9 percent profile grade, a reverse curve, and constant superelevation transition. At 308 feet in length, the bridge contained a portion of a circular curve, two spiral transitioning curves in opposite directions, and only 30 feet of tangent in the horizontal alignment. This climbing, twisting, and turning were necessary to fit the structure to the mountain and minimize impact to the environment. The abutment foundations were keyed into the rock — challenged by the nearly 45 degree slope — and were skewed as necessary and curved longitudinally to follow the alignment of the roadway. To preserve the existing vegetation and topography, construction access was limited to the west end, and continued eastward while working within the width of roadbed and/or bridge deck. The masonry finish complimented the naturally occurring rock outcroppings. Exposed concrete surfaces were colored dark gray to blend into the shadows of the mountain when viewing the structure from the valley below.

Designer: FHWA, Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division, Sterling, VA
Contractor: Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc., Sevierville, TN
Owner: National Park Service Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, TN

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Michael Matzke
Office of Program Administration
E-mail Michael

Updated: 04/08/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration