KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) — The North Carolina Department of Transportation said I-40 west between mile marker 20 and mile marker 15 reopened early Thursday morning after it was closed for emergency bridgework Monday night.
“We worried that the work could take up to five days to complete, but we’re happy it took a lot less time,” Division 14 resident engineer Nathan Tanner said. “Crews removed the damaged concrete — and there wasn’t as much as there could have been — and poured a new latex concrete which will give drivers a safer and smoother ride across the bridge.”
A detour was put in place for the stretch of the interstate which added about 45 minutes to trips from Asheville to Dandridge. The directions for the detour are the following:
Drivers desiring to reach points on Interstate 40, west of the closure should take I-40 to Exit 53B (I-240 West) go five miles to Exit 4A (I-26 West) and follow that for 74 miles, crossing into Tennessee. They should then take Exit 8A for I-81 South and continue 57 miles to re-access I-40 near Dandridge, Tenn.
“This work needs to be done before the bridge conditions deteriorate heading into winter,” Division 14 maintenance engineer Wesley Grindstaff said earlier this week. “It is unfortunate that we have to close the interstate, but this is the only way to complete the repairs and to do so quickly and safely.”
Prior to the work starting Monday, crews closed the outside lane of the bridge heading east toward Asheville from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. starting Friday to complete repairs in that lane.
The $436,500 contract with Buckeye Bridge of Canton calls for crews to use hydro-demolition to remove old concrete from the 53-year-old bridge, and then pour new concrete to complete the repairs.
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