WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $35,757,000 to the National Park Service for improvements to the Natchez Trace Parkway. This funding will allow for the restoration of a section of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Colbert County, Alabama, and will involve heavy resurfacing, renovation, and rehabilitation to improve the pavement conditions of the parkway.
“The Natchez Trace Parkway plays an important role in North Alabama and across the nation, and its benefits extend far beyond tourism,” said Senator Shelby. “This grant will improve the conditions of the parkway in Alabama and create a safer and more viable attraction. With this DOT funding, we can ensure that the parkway continues strengthening local communities by showcasing its history and enabling economic growth for years to come.”
This particular project was selected for the award due to the timeliness of the project’s start date, the critical need for pavement improvements in the area, and the support it will bring to the economic stability of this tourist attraction. The project will also provide improvements to the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tishomingo County, Mississippi.
The $35.8 million grant is funded through the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program (NSFLTP) of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). The FAST Act, which was signed into law in 2015, authorized funding for construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of nationally-significant projects relating to Federal and tribal lands.
The Natchez Trace Parkway begins in Natchez, Mississippi and runs through 22 miles of Alabama, ending in Nashville, Tennessee. The trail makes up a total of 444 miles and commemorates the Old Natchez Trace that connected portions of the Mississippi River to salt licks in central Tennessee. The Natchez Trace, often referred to as “the Trace,” experienced its heaviest use from 1785 to 1820 by the Kaintuck boatmen that floated the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to markets in Natchez and New Orleans. The men sold cargo and boats and began the trek back north on foot to Nashville and locations beyond. Visitors today experience the Natchez Trace through driving, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping.