Travelers dread I-40 closures during Jefferson Co. bridge wor

Travelers dread I-40 closures during Jefferson Co. bridge work

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Traffic in both directions will be cut down to one lane for the full length of the project. Traffic in both directions will be cut down to one lane for the full length of the project.
"I'll deal with it. Absolutely. Safety is first. The bridge needs to be safe because there's a lot of traffic on it," said Ralph Johnson of West Virginia. "I'll deal with it. Absolutely. Safety is first. The bridge needs to be safe because there's a lot of traffic on it," said Ralph Johnson of West Virginia.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

DANDRIDGE (WATE) - Major lane closures on Interstate 40 in East Tennessee go into effect Sunday. The closures will be in place for the next two years.

It's all part of a $22 million improvement project on the I-40 bridge in Jefferson County that crosses over the French Broad River.

Traffic in both directions will be reduced to one lane for the full length of the project.

As more than 27,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily, drivers say they're not looking forward to the expected backups.

The bridge begins at mile marker 424 in Dandridge. Built in 1960, it needs some work.

TDOT will be fixing a number of structural issues on the bridge.

As they complete the construction, traffic both westbound and eastbound will be reduced to one lane, which is something travelers who use the bridge are not excited about.

"We do travel this a whole lot. That's a long time for one lane traffic in a busy place," said Ralph Johnson of West Virginia.

Johnson and his family travel from West Virginia to Jefferson County several times a month to go camping.

He's worried the reduction will lead up traffic jams.

"It's gonna be a backup jam once they start, so we'll have to leave some extra time to get there. That's what we'll have to do," said Johnson.

However, he's willing to face those traffic delays if it means a safer bridge in the future.

"I'll deal with it. Absolutely. Safety is first. The bridge needs to be safe because there's a lot of traffic on it," said Johnson.

People who live right off the exit and travel across the bridge daily say they're eager to see the upgrades TDOT's making.

"The fact that they're redoing the bridge is really good for all people of Dandridge and Jefferson County and for people coming this way," said Trey Dodson of Dandridge.

Dodson says he'll be taking back roads to avoid that section of I-40.

"I guess that'll have to be the option for a lot of people during the morning time, trying to get home or trying to get to work. They'll have to go through downtown Dandridge or through Jefferson City to get on I-40 that way," said Dodson.

Locals may have to deal with more traffic off the exit, as people try to get around the construction.

"To see cars backed up where we're pulling out, where there's usually no traffic at all, that's going to be a major difference. I guess it'll have to be something we adjust to," said Dodson.

The project is scheduled to wrap up in December 2015.

Local traffic can take U.S. 25W as a detour.

For drivers passing through, drivers should consider taking I-81 to I-26.

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