WEARS VALLEY, Tenn. (AP) — A road considered one of the oldest unfinished highways in Tennessee is nearing completion.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park acting superintendent Clay Jordan told news outlets on Thursday a 16-mile (26-kilometer) stretch of Foothills Parkway is expected to be opened to the public by December 2018. Crews are still working to pave portions.

Jordan said the 16-mile stretch also has a more than 1-mile part containing nine bridges, nicknamed the "Missing Link."

Foothills Parkway was authorized by Congress in 1944 and construction began in sections on the scenic route during the 1960s. Since 1970, work on the project has been halted several times for a variety of reasons, including infrastructure failures and financial constraints.

The parkway is planned to stretch 72 miles (116 kilometers), from Cosby to Chilhowee Lake.