Interstate 40 may be one of the longest roads in the United States, but truckers traveling along it where Tennessee meets North Carolina will want to take a detour, state officials warn, as things are about to become a lot more slow-moving around the state border.
Oftentimes a highway will have a bridge segmentally replaced while leaving another section of the bridge open for traffic, as what happened with the I-285 in Georgia earlier this year. Unlike the Georgia version, the bridge repair will close all but one lane going eastward and westward along the state border between North Carolina and Tennessee for two miles, bringing traffic to a screeching halt if the same number of vehicles were to travel through it as does now.
The intention to repair/replace the bridges occurred on Friday, October 28th. The replacement bridges, which are expected to take until at least May 2024, are expected to be revamped to include wildlife bridges. This may seem like an unnecessary government expenditure on the surface, but the amount of traffic caused by wildlife crossings in the immediate area justifies the cost.
In regards to vehicle traffic itself, the bridges that are being replaced are near the end of their service lives and the twin state departments of transportation do not want to take chances with people’s lives.
So what can a trucker do to avoid the congestion? The NCDOT says that truckers traveling eastward should take the I-81 North towards Kingsport and then take I-26 East to Ashville before joining the I-40 again. Doing so will add forty-five minutes to the drive, but should be quicker than a single lane highway with bumper-to-bumper traffic for two miles.
For truckers traveling westward, NCDOT strongly suggests to stay on the I-40 despite the traffic jam; they state that the mountains there have no alternative route that is safe for trucks.
The final thing worth mentioning is that construction will take a break between June and October 2023, where all lanes will be temporarily opened and operating as normal before the last stage of construction begins. In total, there will be twelve months of work to be done.
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