Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner Gerald Nicely along with state and local officials cut the ribbon to reopen James White Parkway the morning of Sept. 21 in downtown Knoxville.
TDOT closed James White Parkway in December 2006 for demolition and reconstruction as part of Phase 1 of the SmartFIX40 accelerated construction project. The new and improved route includes six new bridges, four new ramps and a tunnel, comprising more than 2 mi. (3.2 km) of new roadway.
“The opening of James White Parkway is a major milestone for the SmartFIX40 project,” said Nicely.
“Crews constructed the new James White Parkway and Hall of Fame Drive in preparation for the I-40 closure, which is scheduled for May 2008. These projects are necessary in order to maintain access to Knoxville’s growing downtown area during the 14-month closure.”
Construction on James White Parkway and Hall of Fame Drive began in 2005. Since that time, contractors have poured more than 35,000 cu. yd. (26,800 cu m) of concrete (equivalent to approximately 3,500 concrete trucks) and have excavated or moved 550,000 cu. yd. (420,500 cu m) of earth, rock and other materials to allow for new road, ramp and bridge construction. Approximately 48,600 vehicles used James White Parkway on a daily basis prior to the closure.
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam noted, “I am extremely pleased that TDOT and its contractors were able to complete James White Parkway ahead of schedule. The new parkway should greatly ease some of the traffic congestion downtown during UT football game days.”
Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said, “The new parkway is a welcome addition to the city and county’s roadway infrastructure. At a time when Knox County is experiencing sustained economic growth in the downtown area, new and improved roadway systems are essential.”
SmartFIX40 is an accelerated construction process involving the complete closure of a primary roadway to allow around-the-clock work that is uninterrupted by traffic in order to dramatically shorten construction time, thereby reducing the long-term inconvenience to motorists.
During the SmartFIX40 project, I-40 traffic through Knoxville will be rerouted onto I-640 for 14 months beginning in spring 2008. Local traffic will have access to downtown at all times during this closure. The closure of I-40 will avoid more than two years of traffic delays, lane closures and other frustrations by allowing construction crews to work on roadways and bridges without traffic.