The Tennessee Department of Transportation will resume road work on Interstate 40 this weekend, so be prepared for major traffic delays through West Knoxville between Friday night and early Monday morning.
The bridge repair work is in a five-mile stretch on both sides of I-40 between the West Hills exit and the I-640 interchange. The work will be happening with lane closures in place on both the eastbound and westbound sides of I-40 between Friday at 8 p.m. to Monday at 6 a.m.
TDOT crews will be doing structural work on concrete bridges. Though the project covers a larger area, this weekend will be focused on MM 382.
"We found on these bridges there's a lot of concrete that needs to be replaced," TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi said. "So basically, what crews are doing is taking out the bad concrete, putting in new concrete and you have to have time for the concrete to cure."
Cars can't drive over the the concrete until it's dry, Nagi added. TDOT will eventually work on resurfacing the area, but that can be done overnight.
The work began two weeks ago, and caused major traffic delays around the area as TDOT reduced traffic to both the eastbound and westbound sides of the interstate to two lanes. The work also jammed up traffic on Kingston Pike and Middlebrook Pike, as well as nearby outlying roads where people tried to bypass the traffic.
Nagi recommended people wanting to bypass traffic to consider taking Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi Parkway, which are more readily capable of handling the higher traffic volume and would likely be faster than sitting in traffic -- even with the lengthy detour.
Work was scheduled to resume last weekend with a similar Friday-Sunday schedule, however, Nagi said that plan has changed due to heavy rains in the forecast.
"Work will get back underway next Friday, March 16, and will take at least three weekends to complete between MM 380 (West Hills) and 385 (I-640 interchange)," Nagi said.
Work will not happen on Easter weekend between March 30 and April 2. TDOT said the schedule could change depending on local weather conditions. They hope to complete work by April 8, Nagi said.
"We understand folks are frustrated, and we know that there are significant delays," Nagi said. "We just ask for everyone's patience as this important work continues."
TDOT is also doing work on a section of I-40 in Cocke County.
Also, be alert of other major road closures at the intersection of North Broadway and West Jackson Avenue at the train depot in downtown Knoxville that will last nearly a week starting 2:30 p.m. Saturday until midnight on March 23. The work will close multiple roads heading in and out of the heart of downtown and implement detour routes around utility work and upgrades.