Preparations for Smartfix I-40 shutdown

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Chances are, your next trip through Knoxville will happen Thursday morning. That's when some major changes could force you to alter your driving habits.

TDOT will close a portion of I-40 beginning Thursday at midnight and those closures will be in place for at least one year.

Here is a look at the closed segment:
As of midnight, the interstate will not be accessible between James White Parkway and Hall of Fame Drive.

If you are traveling from the West to Downtown, you must exit at Henley Street or James White Parkway.

If you are traveling from the East to Downtown, you must exit at Hall of Fame Drive.

If you are traveling around Downtown Knoxville, you must take the I-640 detour around town.

Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb has what you need to know to make this transition easier on you.

Tennessee's largest construction project ever is just about to happen. All traffic will stop driving through Downtown Knoxville.

Steve Borden, assistant reg. director, TDOT
"We are in the process of finishing up uncovering all the signs with the warning beacons that tell the motorists that the interstate is closed," Steve Borden, Assistant Regional Director of TDOT, said.

Just a few signs remain covered an hour before I-40 between Hall of Fame Drive and James White Parkway is closed. Many vehicles immediately began taking the hit, exiting onto I-640. Meanwhile, construction crews got a safety lesson.

"Make sure they got their vests on, be aware, because that's the most dangerous times. We area actually closing the road down," said Allen Blalock, vice president of Blalock Construction.

Between now and midnight, it starts to get busy.

"Later tonight, we will begin closing all the ramps at Henley Street and also Western and Dale Avenue," Borden said.

Then just before midnight, crews go into action, getting drivers to change the way they drive through town.

"When it's dark, you know, and you got people running around. A lot of equipment and cars that really don't know where they are, going first thing, so we just told them to be real cautious," Blalock said.

And at midnight, a rolling roadblock, and I-40 in downtown Knoxville shuts down.

"At that time, they'll be putting in the striping and moving the barrels over to create the actual closure for the interstate," Borden said.

Once the roads are closed, demolition of four bridges begins, and within just a few hours, they will be on the ground. The project is expected to take 14 months.

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