SmartFIX40 Downtown Knoxville Begins

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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SmartFIX40 Downtown Knoxville Begins

Posted: 07/06/2005
With the turn of a key, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner Gerald Nicely along with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Knox County Mayor Ragsdale revved up the equipment needed to begin the most complex project in TDOT's 90 year history today.

Called SmartFIX40, this large urban interchange project in downtown Knoxville includes widening I-40 to three lanes in each direction, reconfiguring the interchanges with Broadway and James White Parkway, and making improvements to the Cherry Street interchange and Hall of Fame Drive. "The start of the SmartFIX40 project is the culmination of years of planning, public involvement and preparation," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "The design of this section of I-40 began in the 1980's and has gone through numerous design changes as we worked to make this project one that will serve this city well for many years to come from the standpoint of safety, mobility, and aesthetics."

Construction crews initiated the first phase of construction today as they began the process of demolishing the southbound North Fifth Avenue Bridge over I-40. The new bridge will be part of Hall of Fame Drive, a new city boulevard leading to downtown. The southbound North Fifth Avenue Bridge will reopen as the Hall of Fame Drive Bridge in December, 2006. Broadway motorists still have access to I-40 west using the existing ramp and motorists wanting to access Broadway traveling I-40 west will not be affected.

While construction crews dismantle the bridge, one lane on I-40 both east and west bound will be closed at night. The bridge demolition should take two to three weeks. (See construction schedule and map attached.)"Building Hall of Fame Drive first will ensure that motorists will always have access to downtown during the life of this project," said TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges. "This is especially important later in the project when James White Parkway closes December 2006 and in the spring of 2008 when through traffic on I-40 is re-routed onto I-640."

The section of I-40 that is under construction runs from Broadway to I-275. That section of roadway, built in the 1960's is known as a high accident rate corridor that cannot meet modern day capacity demands and badly needs upgrading. "This stretch of interstate is too narrow and is extremely dangerous, especially for motorists trying to merge onto I-40 from James White Parkway. It averages more than 150 accidents per year." said TDOT Region One Director Fred Corum.An extensive community involvement process has resulted in design elements that address I-40's serious safety concerns and preserve the integrity of the adjoining historical areas.

Community input regarding noise walls, landscaping, lighting, and aesthetic aspects of the project have been incorporated into the final design."We are seeing a lot of new growth in the downtown area. More and more people are working in, living in and coming to downtown for entertainment. It is very important that access to downtown be maintained," said Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. "I-40 is the first impression visitors get when driving into downtown from the east. With all the visual improvements planned, I-40 will become a gateway into downtown and we are really excited about that. "

SmartFIX is an accelerated construction process used by the department to speed up construction. It involves closing the primary roadway at a designated project to allow around-the-clock work that is uninterrupted by traffic in order to dramatically reduce the time it takes to complete the project, thereby reducing the long-term inconveniences to drivers. In the SmartFIX40 project, James White Parkway will be closed for nine months in 2007, and I-40 through traffic will be rerouted onto I-640 for 14 months starting in the spring of 2008. Local traffic will have access to downtown at all times. Over two years of traffic delays, lane closures and motorist frustrations will be avoided by allowing construction crews the opportunity to work without restriction from moving traffic while traffic is rerouted from I-40. I-40 through downtown Knoxville carries an average of 103,000 vehicles a day.

The smartfix40 project consists of two contacts. Both include the largest incentives and penalties involved in the history of the department and commit the contractor to a "no-excuses" deadline. The first contract was awarded to Ray Bell Construction Company last spring and includes the construction of Hall of Fame Drive and the re-construction of James White Parkway. The second contract will be awarded in 2006 and will include the widening of I-40. Additional information and before-and-after computer renderings of SmartFIX40 can be obtained by going to A hotline has also been setup at 329-GO-40 or 329-4640.