Work underway to help traffic build-ups at busy interchange

Work underway to help traffic build-ups at busy Sevier Co. interchange

Posted:
The Tennessee Department of Transportation recent got started on the $15 million project at Exit 407 in Sevier County where traffic is known to back up during busy tourist seasons. The Tennessee Department of Transportation recent got started on the $15 million project at Exit 407 in Sevier County where traffic is known to back up during busy tourist seasons.
TDOT is reworking the interchange using what's called "diamond diversion." The goal is smooth out the process of getting on the interstate and exiting the interstate. (source: TDOT) TDOT is reworking the interchange using what's called "diamond diversion." The goal is smooth out the process of getting on the interstate and exiting the interstate. (source: TDOT)

By WHITNEY GOOD
6 News Reporter

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - Work is underway to alleviate traffic build-ups at one of the busiest interstate exits in the area.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation recent got started on the $15 million project at Exit 407 in Sevier County where traffic is known to back up during busy tourist seasons.

TDOT officials say they have a plan to help.

In the meantime, some people in Sevier County say they are worried it will only make things worse until the work is done.

"Be patient. Be patient because, especially in the summertime when everybody's coming to the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area, it's slow anyway getting in and with all of the extra road work they're doing. Now it's going to be even slower," said Craig Stephens, who works near the interchange at America's Home Place.

Exit 407 on Interstate 40 is the main route into Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, but almost anyone can tell you it does not take long to get crowded.

"The most thing is on the weekends, starting Friday afternoon through Saturday morning, it can get pretty backed up. Sometimes going home, you'll see it backed up nearly to Strawberry Plains," said Justin Price who also works near the interchange at Mountain Motor Sports.

"This is Exit 407, one of the most traveled exits in the country, as everybody knows," said Stephens.

Now the orange cones are lined up, and work is beginning to change that pattern of traffic buildup.

"That's really a big safety concern, so it's been a big push, and a big focus for TDOT to really look at this intersection and see what quick fixes we could have," said Kristin Qualls with TDOT.

TDOT is reworking the interchange using what's called "diamond diversion." The goal is smooth out the process of getting on the interstate and exiting the interstate.

"It really takes traffic and allows them to have a little more free flow movement. You still have signalized intersections but it really makes the best use of those signals," said Qualls.

While many agree it is necessary, they worry about extra slow downs while work is underway.

"It's definitely going to slow things down. Definitely," said Stephens.

"It's got to be done, I think, if our area is going to grow anymore over the next 10 years they have to do something about the traffic. It's got to be done," said Price.

TDOT officials say there are not any designated detours during construction.

They are working to launch a website specifically for this project where people can monitor the work and traffic there 24/7.

That site should be launched in the next two to three weeks. Construction is expected to be complete next May.

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