Sunday, November 19, 2006

Road to nowhere might be sunk

It looks like the recent election of North Carolina Democrat and former NFL player Heath Shuler to Congress could mean the end of the push to build a 600 million dollar "road to nowhere" around Lake Fontana in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Shuler has made known that he is against completion of the road which was promised in 1943 as a replacement for a highway flooded by the creation of the lake, as a means of providing access to family cemeteries

"Only seven of 42 miles were completed before high costs and environmental concerns halted construction in 1972. Supporters of the road have continued to lobby for its completion, saying it would give residents forced out by construction of the dam access to family cemeteries and homesteads. The National Park Service now pays to transport those people across Fontana Lake by boat for their annual cemetery decoration days."

Many people, including anglers and politicos alike, feel the completion of this road would go a long way towards harming one of the country's most remote wilderness areas.

Shuler said he intends to push for the settlement _ an option that has been endorsed by the Swain County board of commissioners, North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and the Washington-based taxpayer watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Alexander has called completion of the road _ which would cross one of the largest roadless tracts of land in the eastern United States _ a "terrible idea." Easley has said almost "any construction activity on the north shore of Fontana Lake threatens the delicate balance of streams, woodlands and wetlands that we in North Carolina are working diligently to protect and preserve."

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