Knoxville: City of Eternal Construction

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Just as one major construction project in West Knoxville is wrapping up, another one in North Knoxville is just beginning.

Soon, the first orange barrels will be going up on i-275, but the good news, you may be able to avoid most of them, at least for now.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel has the latest on what's happening at I-275 and 640.

I-275 was built in 1958. A lot has changed since then, speeds have increased, there's much more traffic on the roadways and that's the reason this project is happening.

Tuesday crews are placing signage in the to-be-construction area.

The project will widen I-275 and one mile of I-640. Crews will also reconstruct the interchanges at Baxter, Oldham, and Heiskell Avenues from wide clover shaped configurations to narrow diamond shaped, making it easier for drivers to enter and exit the interstate.

During the time of construction, speed limits will be lowed from 55 to 45 and the road might only be open in one lane overnight while crews work.

This section of roadway carries 60 to 70 thousand vehicles a day, but it's a project that needs done, and needs to be done now.

"It will improve 275 and really increase capacity and efficiency and safety, and you know, we're going to try to do all this by the end of next year, so as we go into spring '08, we're going to be ready to move the traffic over to 640 and get the work done and complete on SmartFix," says Travis Brickey, TDOT Spokesman.

The SmartFix40 project focuses on widening I-40 through the Downtown area.

To do that in May of '08, TDOT will close I-40 and reroute traffic to I-640.

And that's why this project is so important, and why it's so important to finish it first.

The I-275/640 widening should finish up by December 31st, 2007.