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I-40 traffic backups expected near Tennessee-North Carolina border

Construction and holiday traffic are both playing a part in the I-40 backup near the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 10:32 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2021 at 10:40 PM EST
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HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. (WVLT) - Delays on I-40 through the Pigeon River Gorge are expected as transportation officials are fixing a 56-year-old bridge. The plan is to build an up to date bridge with wildlife paths underneath of it. This means extra long wait times for holiday travelers.

Holiday travelers are already on the road this Tuesday.

“We’re going to visit family in Greenville, South Carolina,” said Knoxville resident James Lewis.

Something all travelers will experience in the North Carolina mountains is traffic backups.

“I’m going to Fayetteville, North Carolina,” Nashville resident Peg Fredi said.

“There’s a lot of construction. The bridge is out and you have to go down to one lane,” Lexington, Kentucky resident Don Fishback said.

While transportation officials build this new bridge, the current construction is causing some delays. WVLT News asked some drivers who went through there how long it took them.

“I’d say probably 20 minutes,” Lewis said.

“Probably 15 to 20 minutes more,” Fredi said. “It wasn’t too bad.”

“It took about 45 minutes I think,” Fishback said.

The WVLT News team took a trip heading from Knoxville to North Carolina. Traffic backed up about 6 miles from the construction site and took around 30 minutes to get through.

This wait time will increase as more drivers hit the road for Thanksgiving.

Many travelers were hoping to avoid the traffic by leaving early, but still got stuck Tuesday in I-40 traffic.

“You’re not going to be able to do anything about it so take it as it goes,” Lewis said.

Both TDOT and NCDOT recommended people either zipper merge on I-40 or take alternate routes. A recommended route is going north to Johnson City crossing the mountains on I-26. For most people in the Knoxville area, that’ll add 45 minutes to your trip.

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