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guestview: Interstate 40 in Knoxville to close next year

The Tennessee Department of Transportation begins the one-year countdown to the re-routing of Interstate 40.

As a part of the SmartFIX40 project, a one mile stretch of I-40, located between I-275 and Cherry Street, will close for 14 months for reconstruction in May 2008.

This segment of I-40 currently holds one of the nation’s worst safety records and is also one of Knoxville’s main problem areas for traffic jams. Currently, five lanes of traffic merge into two in an area that carries one hundred and three thousand vehicles per day.

This closure will allow us to correct the deficiencies and provide Knoxville with safer roads.

This 1.5-mile section of I-40 will be widened to six through lanes, four auxiliary lanes will also be added. Along with the interstate improvements, work will include the construction of nine bridges, 14 retaining walls and three noise walls; one of which is a state of the art glass wall to protect the aesthetics of the historic Fourth and Gill neighborhood. Additionally, two bridges will be demolished, 12 side roads completed and seven new ramps will be constructed.

This closure will inevitably be a bit of an inconvenience, but the addition of more lanes on this section of I-40 will ease congestion during peak travel times and hopefully save motorists some time in their commute to and from work.

The closure is still a year away but we want to make sure that everyone is informed about it in order to make plans for alternate routes.

Access to and from downtown will always be maintained. Through traffic will be the only movement closed on the interstate so those most affected will be motorists wishing to travel through Knoxville. They will be re-routed to I- 640.

Local traffic will have a number of alternate routes to use.

For drivers coming from the west, possible routes will include the newly reconstructed James White Parkway, Henley Street or Neyland Drive.

Drivers coming from the east can utilize the new Hall of Fame Drive.

This is all a part of the final phase of the SmartFIX40 project, scheduled to be complete June 30, 2009.

SmartFIX40 is TDOT’s single most expensive construction project in its 90 year history. Broken into two separate construction contracts, SmartFIX40 has a price tag of approximately $190 million.

SmartFIX is an accelerated construction process used by the department to speed up construction. It involves closing the primary roadway to allow around-the-clock work that is uninterrupted by traffic in order to dramatically reduce the time it takes to complete the project, thereby reducing the long-term inconvenience to drivers. Using the SmartFIX concept will save over two years of construction time.


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