(WBIR) Construction, Hurricane Arthur and the Fourth of July are creating a perfect storm for traffic delays on one stretch of road in East Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is suspending all its road work over the holiday weekend but travelers in East Tennessee can still expect delays tied to one ongoing project.
Last August, TDOT cut the number of lanes on I-40 over the French Broad River from four to two. Crews found problems with the bridge's support system.
"I have at least 3.5 hours or more and this traffic may make it more than that. So it may make it as much as 4 hours," said Terry Smith, who was headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.
According to TDOT, about 27,000 cars and trucks cross the I-40 bridge every year. Add to that, the holiday traffic. AAA projects 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend, a 1.9% increase from last year.
"It's been okay so far until we got here and then the traffic is backed up quite a bit as you can see," said Jack Lewis, who is traveling to Virginia for a family reunion.
AAA expects about 827,000 Tennesseans to travel for the Fourth of July; about 90% of those people will drive.
"We're traveling from Raleigh to California and stuck in traffic. The worst possible time for them to... on the July 4 weekend, to do construction on the bridge," said Suveen Mathaudhu, who took a break at the rest area near the French Broad River.
Hurricane Arthur is also affecting traffic in Jefferson County.
"We were vacationing on Hatteras Island and we had to evacuate because of the hurricane," said Melanie Jordan, also at the rest area. "We are going to visit family in Tennessee now. Just trying to get away from the coast. So we've been stuck in traffic for... we've been driving for like 9 hours now. It's been really fun."
According to TDOT Spokesperson Mark Nagi, construction on the bridge is predicted to wrap up in December 2015.
On TDOT's website, there are suggested detours to avoid the traffic:
Traffic loads in excess of 12 feet in width will be prohibited and must follow a detour route. The wide load detour will be US 25/SR 9 between Exits 424 and 432. Motorists should expect potential delays in this area during peak travel times. Local traffic should consider using US 25/SR 9 as an alternate route during peak travel periods. I-81 and I-26 may be used as an alternate route for I-40 "thru traffic" to by-pass this project during peak travel periods.