NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The bulk of the $152 million project to re-do the Interstate 440 loop is about to get started, and that will have a huge impact on anyone commuting in or around the south side of town.
In fact, expect major delays starting as early as Friday evening for the much-anticipated I-440 construction.
If you regularly drive on the loop, you've seen crews out for several weeks. They've finished all the necessary preliminary work, like changing out lighting and adding noise walls.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation says after rush hour on Friday, the major closures will begin.
Crews will work 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, starting first on the west side of the loop from I-40 to I-65. Then they will move to the east side, closer to I-24.
They're removing the grassy median, which has long been considered dangerous for head-on collisions, and rubblizing concrete in the inside lanes. They will build a barrier wall and and then will shift to work on the outside lanes.
During the day, two lanes will remain open in each direction. At night crews will keep one lane open in each direction.
When complete, TDOT says I-440 will be wider, safer and have an asphalt surface rather than concrete.
Until then drivers will certainly feel growing pains.
"That'll be the start of the closures that will last the entire project," said I-440 Engineer Clayton Markham, "it will be down to two lanes (in each direction). The impacts are going to continue even on the adjacent corridors, the interstates and the major thoroughfares are also going to experience increased congestion as people find different ways around Nashville."
Expect noise if you live nearby, even in the overnight hours -- and getting around will be tough for the next year and a half, until the project is complete in August 2020.
Other options will be the downtown loop, or Thompson Lane, which turns into Woodmont Boulevard and eventually White Bridge Pike if you need to travel east-west, south of downtown. Other folks will likely use routes like Nolensville Pike, Lafayette Street, Franklin Pike, 21st Avenue, West End Avenue and Charlotte Avenue to travel downtown rather than the interstate, depending on the backup and where they live.
If you do travel along I-440 don't forget that the speed limit is lowered to 45 miles an hour during construction. On just one day earlier this month, Metro Police wrote 27 tickets for speeding in the work zone.