U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Representative Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.3rd) today announced $125,857 in funding for the City of Ducktown and $55,198 for the Polk County Old Line Railroad Restoration Project awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
“This funding will help Ducktown revive its downtown and Polk County restore its railroad – both vital improvements that will benefit the area economy,” Sen. Lamar Alexander said. “ARC’s continued investment in our rural communities is bringing a better way of life to many East Tennesseans.”
“These significant infrastructure improvements will promote economic development and job creation in Ducktown and Polk County,” Sen. Bob Corker said. “I thank the ARC for its continued investment in the future of East Tennessee and all of Appalachia.”
“The beautiful natural resources and historic sites of Polk County draw tourists to Southeast Tennessee from all across our state and around the country,” Congressman Zach Wamp said. “The Old Line Railroad and other tourism excursions play a pivotal role in the area economy. This grant from ARC will bring increased economic development through the improvements to downtown Ducktown and repairs to the Old Line Railroad.”
The City of Ducktown will use this funding to revitalize its downtown Main Street. The ARC funds, along with $40,000 from local sources, will be used to construct new sidewalks and install new light poles and fixtures. The project expects to encourage new businesses to locate in vacant storefronts, increase property values, and improve the aesthetic of the downtown area. It is anticipated that the project will increase revenues of merchants by 5 percent and attract three new businesses to the central business district.
This funding will also help repair and restore three parts of the Old Line Railroad in Polk County. The ARC funds, along with $108,402 from local sources, will repair Reliance Bridge, historic Hiwassee Loop Trestle, and the Creek Trestle #3 to permit the continued operation of safe, reliable, and efficient train service over the route. Hiwassee River Rail Adventure excursions attract an increasing number of visitors from throughout the United States and the railroad provides an important rail freight link between Copper Hill and Etowah. The Old Line Railroad and its improvements are owned by the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association and continued maintenance of the line will be performed by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, the operator of the railway.
The ARC is a federal-state partnership that supports economic development and improved quality of life in Appalachia. Appalachia, as defined in the legislation from which the ARC derives its authority, is a 200,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. It includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. About 23 million people live in the 410 counties of the Appalachian Region; 42 percent of the Region's population is rural, compared with 20 percent of the national population.
The Tennessee counties included as part of the ARC include: Anderson, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Cannon, Carter, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Coffee, Cumberland, De Kalb, Fentress, Franklin, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Loudon, McMinn, Macon, Marion, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith, Sullivan, Unicoi, Union, Van Buren, Warren, Washington, and White.