Officials for the N.C. Department of Transportation anticipate closing both westbound lanes of Interstate 40 between the U.S. 276 interchange at Exit 20 and the Tennessee state line for up to five consecutive days during a stretch in November.
The emergency closure will take place — with at least 24 hours of advance notice — between Nov. 6 and Nov. 22 so crews can make emergency repairs to a bridge over Jonathan Creek and White Oak Road.
The construction dates are dependent on weather conditions. The contractor will remove old concrete with hydro-demolition, then will need dry conditions with temperatures above 50 degrees to pour new concrete. The bridge opened in 1966 and last received significant upgrades 11 years ago with a latex overlay on the surface.
This emergency work is needed due to recent rapid deterioration of the concrete surface. The deterioration has been increasing the possibility for road hazards.
“The only way these repairs can be made is to close both lanes,” said Jonathan Woodard, Division 14 assistant maintenance engineer. “The closure could be as short as 48 hours or up to five days. It all depends on the corrosion and exact nature of repairs.”
Drivers desiring to reach points on I-40, west of the state line should take I-40 to Exit 53B (I-240 West) for 5 miles to Exit 4A (I-26 West) and follow that for 74 miles, crossing into Tennessee. Then drivers should take Exit 8A for I-81 South and continue 57 miles to re-access I-40 near Dandridge, Tenn. The detour from Asheville to Dandridge takes about 45 minutes longer than traveling from Asheville through the Pigeon River Gorge. Emergency response teams will have access to residents in the area.
Transportation officials will open contract bids on Monday and award the contract on Tuesday to the lowest qualified bidder. The contract provides a 17-day window for the contractor to perform the work, which may include an eastbound lane closure during off-peak hours.
Additional NCDOT crews will take advantage of the closure and perform additional maintenance in the area. Crews will repair a section of barrier wall near the state line,, clear drainage boxes, and patch asphalt.
“We know the work will be extremely inconvenient for a lot of folks,” Woodard said. “We have considered a variety of different options. However, the selected option was the only one that provided enough safety for workers and drivers to get the job done. The work will be done as quickly as possible.”
Transportation officials advise drivers to plan additional time into travel plans and follow posted detour signs and digital message boards instead of way-finding apps.
For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.