The "Road to Nowhere" in Swain County, NC.
With the stroke of a pen, federal officials ended a 67-year-old controversy surrounding land near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Saturday a settlement had been reached between the US government and Swain County, North Carolina, and Tennessee Valley Authority over a proposed 34-mile stretch of road through the park. Under terms of the deal, the Department of the Interior will pay up to $52 million into a trust fund established for the county.
The so-called "Road to Nowhere" has divided people in the county since 1943, when the creation of Fontana Lake and Reservoir flooded NC288. The government promised to build a road along the north shore of the lake, to allow residents to visit cemeteries located there. Because of a lack of money and opposition from environmental groups, the road was never built, and the National Park Service was relegated to ferrying people to the cemetery by boat.
Four million dollars has already been authorized for transfer to Swain county. An additional $8.8 million will be transferred once the deal is finalized. The remainder will be paid out in ten annual disbursements.