$190 Million Project
Will Disrupt Traffic
At Least 14 Months
KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee Department of Transportation will begin around-the-clock construction work when it closes a section of Interstate 40 in downtown Knoxville at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, May 1.
A segment of I-40, between James White Parkway (Exit 388) and Hall of Fame Drive (Exit 389) will be closed for at least 14 months.
The $190 million project is the largest, most complex and most expensive in TDOT history.
The project will be completed on or before June 30, 2009, according to TDOT.
Beginning May 1, motorists on I-40 will be rerouted onto I-640. Access to and from downtown Knoxville will be maintained throughout construction. Motorists will have a number of alternate routes to reach downtown and the University of Tennessee.
Eastbound motorists can use James White Parkway, Henley Street, or Alcoa Highway. Westbound motorists can use the new Hall of Fame Drive to get to Neyland Drive and the South Knoxville Bridge.
During the closure, the segment of I-40 will be widened to six through lanes and four auxiliary lanes will be added.
In addition to interstate improvements, work will include the construction of nine bridges, 14 retaining walls, and three noise walls.
Additionally, two existing bridges will be demolished, 12 side roads will be completed, and seven new ramps will be constructed.
"SmartFIX40 is an accelerated construction process that
involves closing a primary roadway to allow around-the-clock work that is uninterrupted by traffic.
This will dramatically shorten the time required to complete the project, thereby enhancing safety
and reducing long-term inconvenience to motorists," according to a TDOT press release.
Bredesen: 'Complex Project'
Gov. Phil Bredesen said, "This is a complex project, but the end result will be a safer commute for the millions of people who travel this busy section of I-40 each month.
"The planning the Department of Transportation has put into preparing for the project and communicating its impacts to motorists ahead of time should minimize the inconveniences as construction gets under way," Bredesen said.
TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely said, "This is the largest, most complex and most expensive project in TDOT history and our goal is to maintain a safe and efficient traffic flow during the closure.
"We have worked extensively with local and state law enforcement and emergency response agencies to ensure we are prepared for a variety of contingencies."
Nuisance 'For Some Time'
Paul Degges, TDOT's chief engineer, said, "This particular section of I-40 has been a nuisance to traffic for some time. Following this phase of reconstruction, we will have corrected long-standing deficiencies and dramatically improved the traffic flow through downtown Knoxville."
The SmartFIX40 project, which began in 2005, will save more than two to three years of construction time, according to TDOT.