Pigeon Forge sees record tourism growth, plans traffic enhancements

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The City of Pigeon Forge held its annual State of the City Address and released financial numbers for 2018 and plans for 2019.

The city's mayor, David Wear, reported $1.4 billion in gross receipts in the city for 2018. Amusements were up 7% for the year and lodging up 8%.

"We are trying to stay as humble as possible. Year after year it seems we keep getting better at what we do and that's hospitality," said Mayor Wear. "These local business folks, they're the ones doing it."

The city announced several projects for 2019 to improve traffic and pedestrian safety.

The city is building a new parking facility near the LeConte Center to support large crowds that gather for events inside the facility. The new parking comes with a pedestrian bridge to help move people into the building. They hope to have the parking and bridge completed by this time next year.

On the parkway, new traffic systems are being installed to coordinate traffic light patterns between Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. The smart traffic system will pick up on heavier volumes of traffic and automatically adjust when traffic picks up.

Off the parkway, traffic engineers say they are ready to build what's billed as the Westside Connector. This connection would allow people to move from one end of the city without ever getting on the parkway.

"Council has already approved funds to engineer and surveying. So we're ready to start buying property and them budgeting the funds to build it," said Mark Miller, City of Pigeon Forge. "It's going to be great to get people from one side of town without ever getting on the parkway."

Plans for the new Westside Connection move into buying property and the city hopes to start construction by the end of the year.