ANTIOCH, Tenn. - In a booming Nashville, there's an unusual sight along Interstate 24 in Antioch: hundreds of acres of undeveloped land, just a couple miles from downtown.
That's the area to the west of I-24 at Hickory Hollow Parkway.
"Antioch is the fastest growing area in the city, and it's going to continue to grow," said Council Member Jacobia Dowell.
But right now, the area west (or some may consider it south) of I-24 at Hickory Hollow Parkway is cut off. Exit 60 only allows people to access the east side of the interstate. It was originally built in the 1970s to provide access to the old Hickory Hollow Mall.
Heading west? You're out of luck.
"Right now, to get into that area you either have to use Bell Road or Old Hickory Boulevard, which are three to four miles apart," said Nashville TDOT Spokesperson Kathryn Schulte.
To get off an exit early at Bell Road, drivers have to wait at lights. They would have to circle around Cane Ridge Parkway, wait at more lights, and miles later they would finally reach the area next to I-24.
But TDOT is at work to give people a direct route to the other side.
"This close to Nashville, to have the exits that spaced out to get where you need to go, it's just something we felt we really needed to work on," Schulte said.
The planned extension of the exit is also where the massive Century Farms development is planned, complete with residences, retail, and office space. The new interchange will take people right to the heart of the new 300-acre development.
Council member Dowell calls it a win that will attract even more business.
She said as her district grows, more residents are moving in at a faster pace than businesses like grocery stores and retail that would keep those residents off major roads to Nashville or Brentwood and instead allow them to spend more time in their neighborhood.
"Businesses want to be able to locate to an area where people can hop on the interstate, hop off, and it's accessible to people all in the community," she said.
And with the interchange, TDOT will debut Middle Tennessee's first Diverging Diamond Interchange. Currently there are only two in the state of Tennessee: one in Sevierville and one in Blount County.
A DDI moves oncoming traffic to the left, so drivers don't have to turn left in front of each other to get on and off the ramps.
"When you look at it on its face, it looks kind of funky because it does involve crossing over to the other side of the road than we're used to," Schulte said, but, "there's traffic signals, there's signage to direct you through the interchange, there's also concrete medians, so there's really a very small chance that anyone will go where they're not supposed to."
She said the DDI is a way to move more cars through an interchange safely.
TDOT broke ground on the project last week and said drivers won't notice much of the work until the spring with much of the short-term work happening overnight.
Next year, there will be some weekend lane closures related to the project. TDOT expects the $30.5 million project to be complete in May 2021.