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Fifth Avenue Ramp To Interstate 40 East Closing For Safety Concerns

Thursday, August 10, 2006 | 07:00pm

Knoxville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced today that the Fifth Avenue ramp to Interstate 40 East will close on Wednesday, August 16, 2006 at 9 a.m. due to safety concerns. Ongoing bridge work will require the exclusive lane for the Fifth Avenue ramp to be closed over Sixth Avenue and Mitchell Street eliminating that 3rd lane for the ramp. The ramp will remain closed until the new Hall of Fame Drive exit ramp to I-40 is complete in November 2006.

“The ramp currently extends to create the third lane of the interstate; this allows motorists to stay in that lane or gives them plenty of time to merge into interstate traffic said spokesperson for Ray Bell Construction, Jeff Walker. “But to be able to complete the ongoing bridge work it is necessary for us to close that third lane.”

The safety issues arise because without the exclusive lane, motorists would have a very short distance to merge into two lanes of very busy interstate traffic.

“Above everything else, safety is our number one concern and we feel that it would be too dangerous to keep the ramp open and have motorists merging into two lanes of heavy traffic,” said TDOT Region One Director Fred Corum.

Vehicle traffic is advised to use Sixth Avenue to Cecil Avenue to Cherry Street as an alternative route to the interstate; while heavy truck traffic should take Magnolia Avenue to Cherry Street.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to the people that use this ramp to access the interstate, said Travis Brickey, TDOT Community Relations Officer. “We are going door-to-door and making every effort to keep the local businesses and residents informed of the closure.”

SmartFIX40 is an accelerated construction process used by the department to speed up construction. It involves completely closing the roadway to allow around-the-clock work that is uninterrupted by traffic in order to dramatically reduce the time it takes to complete the project, thereby reducing the long-term inconveniences to drivers.

During the SmartFIX40 project, James White Parkway will be closed for nine months in 2007, and I-40 through traffic will be rerouted onto I-640 for 14 months starting in the spring of 2008. Local traffic will have access to downtown at all times. More than two years of traffic delays, lane closures and motorist frustrations will be avoided by allowing construction crews the opportunity to work without restriction from moving traffic while traffic is rerouted from I-40. I-40 through downtown Knoxville carries an average of 103,000 vehicles a day.

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