Lane closures expected as I-40 bridge project gears up

Lane closures expected as I-40 bridge project gears up in Jefferson County

Posted:
The Francis Swann Burnett Memorial Bridge over Douglas Lake. The Francis Swann Burnett Memorial Bridge over Douglas Lake.
About 27,000 vehicles drive over the bridge each day in each direction. About 27,000 vehicles drive over the bridge each day in each direction.
Lane closures are expected as work begins on the top of the bridge. Lane closures are expected as work begins on the top of the bridge.

By BO WILLIAMS
6 News Anchor/Reporter

DANDRIDGE (WATE) - A $22 million bridge rehabilitation project is underway on a bridge that is familiar to many in East Tennessee.

The project focuses on the I-40 bridge across the French Broad River, and while the project has not caused motorists any delays to date, that is all about to change.

The Francis Swann Burnett Memorial Bridge, also known as I-40 over Douglas Lake, was built back in 1960 and sees some 27,000 vehicles per day pass in each direction.

The bridge has been undergoing a rehab project since the end of last year, focusing on what's going on underneath the bridge.

They have been working on structural issues down below, replacing rivets with high energy strength bolts.

As part of the work, TDOT will have to close down certain lanes. No dates have been set, but TDOT says those lane closures should start by the middle of August.

"They are going to begin work on the outside lanes, so traffic will be moved to the two inside lanes, one in each direction. Once the work on the outside lanes is complete, then they will switch," said Mark Nagi of TDOT.

As far as detours, wide loads and local traffic, 25W is the best bet for motorists looking to get around once those lanes close, as backups are anticipated.

Drivers passing though can drive across the bridge, but if there are big backups, many should consider taking I-81 to I-26.

As far as those lane closures, once they start next month, they should be in place for about two years, as the project is scheduled to wrap up in December of 2015.

TDOT also tells 6 News that the contractor has announced a lane closure date of August 11.

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