Traffic gridlock at the West Hills exit off I-40 in Knoxville
The new Tomato Head in West Knoxville stays busy, with help from holiday traffic
While heavy traffic continues to gridlock roads across East Tennessee, some businesses are seeing a boost in sales thanks to their proximity to large shopping centers.
The Tomato Head recently opened a new location in West Knoxville just a few stoplights away from West Town Mall. Holiday shoppers have kept employees there busy.
"Being right off Kingston Pike, which is one of the main arteries in Knoxville, nonstop traffic," said manager Katie Stewart. "It's been fantastic!"
"We started with a bang, and it's been going strong!"
Though Stewart and her co-workers enjoy the added business this holiday, they also dread the commute associated with it.
"It is a crazy headache," she laughed. "I try and find a little hideaway, like secret passages to get to work."
According to TDOT data, an average of 173,000 vehicles drive near mile marker 380 of I-40, which is the West Hills exit to access the mall. With Christmas shoppers and holiday travelers, the numbers jump significantly.
"A lot of people will probably try to arrive where they're going by Christmas Eve, which will be Monday." said Lieutenant Don Boshears of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. "So I daresay Saturday and Sunday will be very heavy."
Law enforcement is preparing for a long weekend ahead.
"We take all the extra troopers we can and put them on the roadways. We try to put them in areas where data has shown we have a lot of crashes or impaired drivers, and really focus our efforts in those particular areas," Boshears said.
THP encourages drivers to stay safe this season.
"If you know you've got to be somewhere at a certain time," Boshears cautioned, "Allow extra time, leave early, plan for crowds, and plan for traffic because it's going to be there."