Construction Causes Slow Downs Downtown

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Knoxville (WVLT) - If you travel on I-40 between 'Hall of Fame Drive' and 'Cherry Street', you've probably found yourself driving through there with a death grip on the steering wheel, as you make your way through the construction.

The good news is it will be finished two years sooner through the "Smart Fix 40" project. It's an accelerated project that will knock 23 months off the time is takes to widen I-40 downtown.

"Other cars will race you to stay in the gettin' lane to get off on Cherry Street and they'll run all the way down to the end and they run all the way to the left hand lane to cut people off," James Collins says.

It can be a headache...

"We've needed three lanes coming through there for years," Calvin Hanshaw says.

...but all this hassle now, will pay off later.

"When you ride through there, like downtown by Gay Street, and you see how wide it's gonna be, it's gonna be wonderful when they get it done... it's just if we can make it till then," Lauri Ellis says.

"The interstate is gonna be more safe, there's gonna be more lanes, there's not gonna be bottlenecks," Hannah Nieckula says.

But, right now the Smart Fix 40 project is into "phase three" -- prepping I-40 for a complete closing through downtown. And the result is this -- a slight lane shift between Hall of Fame Drive and Cherry Street.

"We're trying not to close down the road so we're shifting the lanes to keep traffic flowing," Nieckula continues.

But that small change is causing a huge concern for drivers.

"It's a headache, constantly watching to see what people's gonna do," Collins says.

In fact, driving through any type of construction can be stressful...

"It's always scary out there because the road's in such bad shape, the bumps, people try to avoid them and then it's real narrow, so it's, it is bad," Hanshaw says.

And remember...anytime your dealing with those orange barrels...put safety first, not frustration...and take your patience along for the ride.

Click here for the before and after maps for the "Smart Fix I-40" project.

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