July 6, 2005 - With the turn of a key,
Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner Gerald
Nicely along with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Knox County Mayor
Ragsdale revved up the equipment needed to begin the most complex
project in TDOT's 90 year history today. Called SmartFIX40, this large
urban interchange project in downtown Knoxville includes widening
I-40 to three lanes in each direction, reconfiguring the interchanges
with Broadway and James White Parkway, and making improvements to
the Cherry Street interchange and Hall of Fame Drive.
start of the SmartFIX40 project is the culmination of years of planning,
public involvement and preparation," said TDOT Commissioner
Gerald Nicely. "The design of this section of I-40 began in
the 1980's and has gone through numerous design changes as we worked
to make this project one that will serve this city well for many
years to come from the standpoint of safety, mobility, and aesthetics."
crews initiated the first phase of construction today as they began
the process of demolishing the southbound North Fifth Avenue Bridge
over I-40. The new bridge will be part of Hall of Fame Drive, a
new city boulevard leading to downtown. The southbound North Fifth
Avenue Bridge will reopen as the Hall of Fame Drive Bridge in December,
2006. Broadway motorists still have access to I-40 west using the
existing ramp and motorists wanting to access Broadway traveling
I-40 west will not be affected. While construction crews dismantle
the bridge, one lane on I-40 both east and west bound will be closed
at night. The bridge demolition should take two to three weeks.
(See construction schedule and map attached.)
"Building Hall of Fame Drive first will ensure that motorists
will always have access to downtown during the life of this project,"
said TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges. "This is especially important
later in the project when James White Parkway closes December 2006
and in the spring of 2008 when through traffic on I-40 is re-routed
The section of I-40 that is under construction runs from Broadway
to I-275. That section of roadway, built in the 1960's is known
as a high accident rate corridor that cannot meet modern day capacity
demands and badly needs upgrading.
"This stretch of interstate is too narrow and is extremely
dangerous, especially for motorists trying to merge onto I-40 from
James White Parkway. It averages more than 150 accidents per year."
said TDOT Region One Director Fred Corum.
An extensive community involvement process has resulted in design
elements that address I-40's serious safety concerns and preserve
the integrity of the adjoining historical areas. Community input
regarding noise walls, landscaping, lighting, and aesthetic aspects
of the project have been incorporated into the final design.
"We are seeing a lot of new growth in the downtown area. More
and more people are working in, living in and coming to downtown
for entertainment. It is very important that access to downtown
be maintained," said Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. "I-40
is the first impression visitors get when driving into downtown
from the east. With all the visual improvements planned, I-40 will
become a gateway into downtown and we are really excited about that.
SmartFIX is an accelerated construction process used by the department
to speed up construction. It involves closing the primary roadway
at a designated project 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 inconveniences
In the SmartFIX40 project, James White Parkway will be closed for
nine months in 2007, and I-40 through traffic will be rerouted onto
I-640 for 14 months starting in the spring of 2008. Local traffic
will have access to downtown at all times. Over two years of traffic
delays, lane closures and motorist frustrations will be avoided
by allowing construction crews the opportunity to work without restriction
from moving traffic while traffic is rerouted from I-40. I-40 through
downtown Knoxville carries an average of 103,000 vehicles a day.
The smartfix40 project consists of two contacts. Both include the
largest incentives and penalties involved in the history of the
department and commit the contractor to a "no-excuses"
deadline. The first contract was awarded to Ray Bell Construction
Company last spring and includes the construction of Hall of Fame
Drive and the re-construction of James White Parkway. The second
contract will be awarded in 2006 and will include the widening of
Additional information and before-and-after computer renderings
of SmartFIX40 can be obtained by going to www.smartfix40.com. A
hotline has also been setup at 329-GO-40 or 329-4640. Traffic information
and camera images are available from TDOT's Smartway system which
can be found at www.tennessee.gov/tdot.