NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — FOX 17 News continues its yearlong commitment to getting answers about how Nashville's growth is impacting your daily life.
One of those issues, traffic, continues to be a major talker among Nashvillians. Now a major project is just beginning that will snarl traffic even longer on one of the city's busiest highways. But the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) says it will lead to overall improvement of the roadway.
Interstate 440 will have long term lane closures for the next year and a half, impacting drivers on already busy and hectic commutes.
"You have to keep your head on a swivel when you drive on I-440," says Brian Mac, an IT technician and musician. He drives on this interstate three to four days a week. "You just never know what's going to happen here."
He says his ride is often times stressful. "[You feel] paranoid, that's the key word. You take your life in your hands."
The reconstruction of I-440 has been talked about for a while but as of March 1, lane closures will be in place until August 2020.
"It's been a huge concern by residents for a long time. It impacts a lot of people," says Kathryn Schulte, TDOT Region 3 Communications Spokesperson. "That's the key thing. It impacts a lot of hospitals too. We have had people call and say they have a family member on the transplant list, we need to know how these traffic delays are going to impact us. And that's serious. That's life or death."
Your taxpayer dollars will be paying for the removal of the median throughout the 7.6 mile corridor. Once the median is removed, concrete on the inside lanes will be broken up. This will allow for an extra lane in each direction, making room for more drivers.
"This entire median, I mean, give us a lane here. Can you imagine if we had an extra lane?," asks Mac, who looks forward to having this change happen.
"What we have in some areas is we have two through lanes and an exit. So we will be adding another lane in those areas," Schulte says. TDOT adds that I-440 carries roughly 100,000 vehicles per day and its current state was never meant to carry that capacity.
The work comes not only at the cost of your time. The project in total costs roughly $153 million.
Lane closures are now in place. During the day, at least two lanes will remain open in each direction. Overnight, at least one lane will be open. You may also see additional lane closures on I-65, I-40 and I-24 as construction workers move throughout the corridor. Another big get for your money is the expansion of the bridge over I-65.
"We're actually going to be widening the bridges. You have to expect heavy delays on I-440. You have to plan ahead. It's not just a weekend thing, not just a nights thing, it's going to impact your everyday life," Schulte warns.
"If we can see some progress, I think we can handle it and we can calm down," Mac says.
FOX 17 News will continue updating you on the progress of the I-440 reconstruction project as it develops.