Commuters who utilize the Midtown stretch of I-240 have been dealing with lane closures and reduced speed zones for a while because of the Tennessee Department of Transportation's (TDOT) Midtown reconstruction project. And if a proposed I-240 widening project is approved, those drivers can expect the construction zones to dominate yet another stretch of their commute -- from the I-40/240 interchange at Poplar to the I-55/240 junction -- as TDOT adds a lane in each direction.
According to Pam Marshall, a spokesperson for TDOT, construction should start in March 2005. That means the project will overlap with the Midtown reconstruction project, which isn't scheduled for completion until 2006. Marshall says the proposed six-mile I-240 widening project would only utilize existing right-of-way and shouldn't take more than 12 to 18 months to complete.
At a recent public meeting concerning the project, some residents of the area were concerned that additional lanes would mean additional traffic, thus causing excessive noise. They suggested that TDOT look into the construction of noise walls. Marshall says the issue is being considered.
Interchanges at Norris Road, South Parkway, Union, and Madison will have to be reconstructed. Marshall says the existing "cloverleaf" at South Parkway will no longer exist. The other interchanges will be made into traffic signaled exits. She says this project is a necessary complement to the Midtown reconstruction project.
"If you put extra lanes in the Midtown project and you don't do this proposed section, you're doing the interstate system a great disservice," says Marshall. "It's all about good traffic flow and if we don't go ahead and widen, there's going to be a bottleneck. It may cause a short-term inconvenience, but the long-range impact will be better for motorists who use the interstate every day."