TDOT officials say repaving I-440 comes at a cost - WSMV News 4

TDOT officials say repaving I-440 comes at a cost

Posted: Updated: Mar 20, 2017 02:47 PM
TDOT already has a plan in place, but it's going to take some time. (WSMV) TDOT already has a plan in place, but it's going to take some time. (WSMV)

More than 100,000 drivers use Interstate 440 in Nashville every day.

Stretching just over seven miles, it connects all of Nashville’s interstates just south of downtown. However, what was designed to be a way to dodge downtown congestion has now become one of the city’s biggest grievances.

Over the years, I-440 has become filled with potholes, cracks and rough patches. Some of them are so bad, they are keeping local auto body shops busy.

“I’ve hit those potholes. I’ve broken one axle. So, I’m not happy with 440. I’d like to see improvements quickly,” said Angela Brooks, a driver who takes I-440 frequently.

Mary Biddlecome commutes from Bellevue to Vanderbilt every day for work on I-440. She said she thinks her tires are taking a hit from all the cracks.

“I think there are some parts that are fine, but there are some parts that are just treacherous at this point with all the potholes,” Biddlecome said.

Getting the interstate replaced will come at a multi-million dollar cost -- $75 million to be exact.

Paul Degges, the chief engineer at TDOT, said they receive calls on a weekly basis about the aging interstate, and plans are already in place to fix it.

“We do know that 440 is at the end of its useful life,” Degges said.

Fixing the road is more complicated than it seems. Since the road is made of concrete, and not the typical asphalt that the majority of Tennessee interstates are made of, the options to repair it are limited.

“Filling in the potholes is just a stop-gap measure. What we’re filling them with is asphalt and other proxy-type materials. That doesn’t solve the problem,” Degges said. “To replace it, it’s going to be significant work.”

The “cheap fix” isn’t working anymore. It’s time to pulverize what we now know as I-440 and replace it with new, more durable concrete, 10 inches thick, and made to withstand the heavy volume.

The new concrete will have a longer shelf life, too. Concrete gets 20 years of use, whereas asphalt roads typically get around eight years of durability.

But there’s a catch. Drivers will have to wait a few more years before work can actually begin. Bids on the contracting don’t start until 2018.

Also, TDOT is at a crossroad. Do they put I-440 completely out of use for a short period of time to get the job done quickly? Or do they stretch out a longer-term construction project, resulting in lane closures for several months?

TDOT wants to find the perfect balance of efficiency and convenience, getting the job done on time and on budget, while not causing any more traffic headaches than there already are in Nashville.

“I drive on it every day and think it definitely needs to be done, so I’m glad they’re doing it,” said Stephanie Burns, who works in the West End area and commutes on 440 on a daily basis.

TDOT officials said they will be testing the market soon to get feedback from the public on which route they’ll take on the closures. Until then, they say they’ll be working as hard as they can to fill each and every pothole until the road work is underway.

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