East Tennessee State University is getting a $145,026 transportation grant to make improvements at the Gray Fossil Site Visitor Center, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday at the college.
Haslam joined state, local and university leaders in announcing the grant for the site’s Miocene Habitat.
Grant money will go toward outdoor enhancements to the visitor center, such as a welcome sign, signage for self-guided tours, landscaping, irrigation, picnic shelters, art and ADA accessibility. The project represents the completion of the grounds and visitor amenities for the visitor center.
“In its three-year history, the Gray Fossil Site Visitor Center has welcomed more than a quarter of a million visitors from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries,” Haslam said. “This project completes a monumental effort to preserve this historic site and create a unique educational opportunity for those who visit.”
The grant is made possible through a federally funded program administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Enhancement grants, Haslam said, are money the federal government passes onto states to dole out to community projects as they see fit. The grants, though handed out through the transportation department, often go to “non-traditional” transportation projects, he said.
A variety of activities such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.
State Rep. Matthew Hill thanked Haslam for his support of Northeast Tennessee and said the region should support the Gray Fossil Site for its role as both an economic driver and an educational facility.