Speed limits going up to 60, 65 and 70 on I-40/I-640

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Air quality improvements in the Knoxville area are resulting in higher speed limits on Interstate 40 and 640, the Tennessee Department of Transportation said Monday.

Changes started last night with new signs on I-40 West at mile marker 384.8 and ending at mile marker 369.0 and I-40 East from MM 369.0 to MM 384.8.

The speed limit was also changed on I-40 East in Loudon County from MM 368.2 to MM 368.6.

At 6 p.m. Monday, TDOT changed the speeds on I-640 in Knox County and I-40 from MM 385 to MM 393.

“Back in 2004 TDOT established a policy of reducing speed limits to improve air quality. At the request of local governments in Knoxville area counties, we agreed to reduce speed limits and interstate speed limits in the Knoxville area were changed from 70 to 65/55 split due to the air qualify nonattainment status for ozone,” TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi said.

“Since then, the Knoxville area has regained full compliance with all current National Ambient Air Quality Standards as regulated by the Clean Air Act. So TDOT initiated a review of posted speed limits on Knoxville area interstates.,” Nagi said.

The traffic study found all motorists were going over the 55 mph limit already, and traffic guidelines and crash data supported raising the limit.

“The average speed in this area was pretty much between 67 and 75 miles per hour. So, by changing the speed limit, it actually gets us closer to what those speed limits really should be in these areas,” Nagi said.

Nagi said the department also looked into crash data, and found that there were fewer crashes than the statewide average for most of the stretch of I-40 seeing changes, with the exception of I-40 near downtown Knoxville.

Here are the changes:

These recommnded changes were implemented beginning Sunday and continuing Monday night, Oct. 21, 2019. (TDOT map)
  • I-40 from MM 367.8 (between the I-40/I-75 split at Watt Road) and MM 385.2 (near the I-40/I-640 split) goes from 65/55 or 55, to 65 mph throughout.
  • I-40 from MM 385.2 to MM 390.2 (near Cherry Street exit) goes from 55 to 60 mph.
  • I-40 from MM 390.2 to MM 395.7 (between Asheville Highway exit and Strawberry Plains exits) goes from 65/55 to 65 mph throughout.
  • I-40 from MM 395.7 to MM 409.7 (past the Sevierville exit) goes from 65/55 or 70, to 70 mph throughout.
  • I-640 from MM 0.0 (at the I-40 split) to MM 3.6 goes from 55 to 65 mph.
  • I-640 from MM 3.6 to 10.6 (at the I-40 split) goes from 55 to 65 mph.

Nagi said that if any drivers wanted to comment about the changes or any other TDOT matters, they can call 1-877-SMARTWAY, or email tdot.comments@tn.gov.

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