Get ready for traffic delays and backups on Interstate 40 in Cocke County.
Starting Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Tennessee Department of Transportation will close one-lane parts of I-40 East and West in Cocke County between State Road 32 and the Foothills Parkway. That's between exits 435 and 443. The work was originally planned to begin Monday, but had to be postponed to Tuesday due to rain.
TDOT cautions the work won't entail the entire section of I-40. It's only going to be at bridges and will only close one lane in each direction, according to a TDOT alert.
"These bridge repairs are taking place in advance of paving operations that will occur once bridge repairs are complete," according to a release from Mark Nagi, TDOT community relations officer for Region I.
Nagi said he expects the bridge repairs that will cause the majority of delays will take about two to three months to complete and should be finished by the end of May.
Once the repairs are finished, he said road resurfacing will take place and close one lane in each direction where it's happening, but said traffic shouldn't be affected much because that work will take place at night.
The entire project from start to finish with resurfacing is expected to be done on or before Aug. 31, according to TDOT.
"There's a bit of a misconception you think just because this work is taking place that means it's going to be down to one lane for that entire 8 mile stretch, that's not the case," said Nagi. "[When] they're going to be working on one bridge, only in that area will it be down to one lane in each direction. Once work on one bridge is finished, then they'll start work on another bridge and another bridge and so on and so forth."
Drivers who use that section of I-40 heading to and from Cocke County and North Carolina know backups are likely. Previous work that closed parts of I-40 at the French Broad River led to numerous delays at the lane closure points.
Christina Lane, manager at Pigeon River Smokehouse in Hartford, remembers these previous closures in the area.
She's worried for her business during this construction, but is staying hopeful.
"Our season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day and that's pretty much the whole season, but it could either help us or hurt us," said Lane. "But we have a great bunch of local people and we can rely on them all the time."
TDOT asks drivers to remain cautious in construction zones.
Crews will be working very close to the open lanes.