Tupelo, MS – On June 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced that Natchez Trace Parkway will receive a grant of $37,757,000 as part of the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects (NSFLTP) program. Two National Park Service programs will augment the grant funds for a total of just over $40 million.
“This project will improve the roadway condition by rehabilitating the Parkway between milepost 291 and 331,” stated Facility Manager Barry Boyd. “Heavy rehabilitation (3R) corrects problems, such as cracking, rutting, deformation, pot holing, and loss of slope. If left unchecked, these issues could lead to the total failure of the roadway.”
“The Natchez Trace Parkway is a national treasure that celebrates the rich cultural, historical, and natural significance of the Old Natchez Trace corridor and the communities it connects along its 444-mile route,” stated Senator Roger Wicker (MS), who wrote a letter of support for the project. “This award is a significant milestone toward making much-needed repairs to the road surface and improving safety. I will continue supporting investments in the Trace to preserve the parkway for future generations.”
Chief Ranger Sarah Davis expressed her excitement about the project by stating that in addition to improving the pavement condition, this project will also address safety issues on the Parkway. “In recent years, more than 40 percent of injury crashes along the Parkway involved a lane departure,” stated Davis. “A Road Safety Audit conducted by Department of Transportation recommended addressing these lane departure crashes with audible pavement markings to alert motorists when they leave their travel lane. This project will improve Parkway safety by adding raised profile stripes to both the fog line and the center striping.”
The project will also apply Safety Edge to the edges of the asphalt where heavy 3R work is done. By providing a 30-degree angle between the Parkway and the unpaved shoulder, Safety Edge allows drivers to re-enter the roadway safely, and drivers are less likely to lose control of their vehicle and cross into oncoming traffic.
The NSFLTP Program was established under the Fix America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to address nationally significant projects within, adjacent to, or accessing federal and tribal lands. As the eighth most visited NPS unit in 2017, Natchez Trace Parkway welcomed more than 6.3 million recreational visitors. This project will improve the roadway condition for current and future visitors and facilitate tourism in rural areas and in the states where the Parkway travels.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 418 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.