Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Photo taken by Michael Grider)
TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The most visited part of the Great Smoky Mountains is now open again, after road work closed the Cades Cove loop March first.
Now, communities in the area hope this will have a positive impact on their local economy.
At the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove is nestled in Blount County, with the serenity of trails, streams, and now a newly paved 11-mile driving loop.
Townsend Mayor Pat Jenkins says, "We're thrilled that it's open. We're thrilled it's open a month earlier than planned."
And, the reopening couldn't have come sooner for Mayor Jenkins.
Jenkins says, "There's no doubt that the visitor-ship has been down for the last 2 months."
GSMNP Superintendent Dale Ditmanson says, "They come out here to see the wild life. They come out here to see the historic churches, the historic homes."
With the Cades Cove loop closing for repairs, and a tight economy, the city of Townsend is looking forward to tourism season.
Ditmanson says, "While they're here, they're buying gas, they're staying overnight, they're having a meal, and our communities that surround the park provide that opportunity."
Representative Jimmy Duncan says, "The park generates thousands of jobs, outside of the park service, when you add in all the tourism jobs, and so forth"
Rep. Duncan says the importance of the park, was well worth the cost of the more than a month and a half long renovation. "This was a total project of 6.7 million, counting the preparation and administrative costs," says Duncan.
Now Mayor Jenkins hopes to see the money coming back into Townsend.
Jenkins says, "We have several festivals and having the road open is just an added attraction that will help our turn out at these festivals."
Park officials say it had been decades since the Cades Cove loop was re-paved, and the work they did, should last for a long time.