Location: Knoxville, TN
Gen. Contractor: BB SmartFIX Constructors, a joint venture between Charles Blalock and Sons, Inc. and Bell and Associates
Originally constructed through Knoxville in the 1960s, I-40 has long been constricted by urban development around the downtown interchanges. Over the years, Knoxville’s growth not only led to a dramatic increase in traffic along I-40 but also significantly limited the available space around the interstate for widening. This was particularly true near the Broadway and James White Parkway interchanges, a place known as “Malfunction Junction” among local commuters.
In 2005, the Tennessee Department of Transportation began an accelerated, multi-phase plan to widen and improve I-40 through downtown Knoxville. Following widening projects along I-40 east and west of downtown, the plan finally addressed the bottleneck of traffic congestion near James White Parkway. Known as SmartFIX40, the plan called for two projects, each with two phases of work. Project One included an $85 million reconstruction and realignment of Hall of Fame Drive and James White Parkway. Project Two, a $105 million joint venture between Charles Blalock and Sons Inc. and Bell and Associates, included a 14-month closure of I-40 to complete the widening project.
The goal of the SmartFIX40 schedule was to accelerate construction by 2-3 years by allowing a complete closure of the interstate. During the 14 month closure period, crews from Blalock and Bell completed the six-lane widening through downtown and constructed 13 bridges, 15 retaining walls, 3 noise walls, 7 ramps, and 12 side roads. Crews worked around the clock to move over 600,000 tons of dirt, place nearly 20,000 yards of concrete, and pave over 250,000 tons of asphalt along the widened interstate. On June 12, 2009, I-40 officially reopened to traffic, 18 days ahead of schedule.