Nashville to get new Interstate

I-840 is a new Interstate highway in the Nashville area.  The highway that was state route 840 will be re-signed as I-840 over the next few months, and TDOT expects the work to be done by the end of the year.  They’ve already received federal approval to do so.

I-840 branches off from I-40 near Lebanon and rejoins I-40 near Dickson.  It makes a wide arc through communities to the south of Nashville.  It also crosses I-24 and I-65.

The highway was completed three years ago, but by re-signing the route as an Interstate highway, TDOT is hoping to encourage through traffic to avoid the congested highways in and near downtown Nashville.

Fun fact: Since this Interstate is a bypass (off of I-40), it receives an even-numbered prefix.  Spurs, on the other hand, get an odd-numbered prefix.

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Nashville traffic a hot mess, putting people’s tempers to the test

Today Metro Schools started back, clogging up the streets, especially around schools:

And to make matters worse, there was a fatal crash on I-40 this morning. The single-vehicle crash, which gave the driver fatal injuries, reduced the inbound side to a single lane near White Bridge Pike for the morning rush hour.  Traffic is backed up at least 8 miles.

And what backs up cars also backs up the buses.  My own bus got delayed in traffic around an elementary school this morning.  Another bus driver said that many buses are running behind schedule because of the school traffic and I-40 accident.

Drivers are none too happy about the delays:

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Nashville BNA Vision

Airport to add Grand Ole Lobby, hotel, train link to city, and more in ambitious expansion plan

Nashville International Airport today released a $1.2 billion plan to expand the airport to keep up with Nashville’s explosive growth.  BNA Vision, as it’s being called, will expand the airport to attract new flights and connect flyers with better ground transportation options, among other things.  The entire plan is not yet set in stone because “precise details of BNA Vision will evolve as individual projects take shape,” the press release states.

To connect the airport to the city, airport officials are already building a new parking garage with 2,000 spaces.  This new garage, which is part of BNA Vision, is expected to be done in about two years.  They also made a vague mention of expanding multi-modal transit “to link BNA to future Nashville transit system.”  The rendering of the plan appears to show a train exiting the airport and heading south on Donelson Pike, away from downtown.  Some redditors speculated that the train will only link the concourse to buses along Murfreesboro Pike:

BNA Vision also calls for expanding the building’s capacity to handle more flights, especially coveted international ones.  They’re already in the process of expanding Concourse A with an international arrival area.  Concourse B will be extended to add more gates and retail/food options.  And Concourse D, which was disused a number of years ago (it was a ground-level terminal for commuter flights before that), will get a major extension.

Part of the expansion includes building a larger central lobby, which they’re calling Grand Ole Lobby.  It’s supposed to have an airy feel with lots of natural light flowing in.  The Grand Ole Lobby will consolidate ticketing, baggage check in, baggage claim, and security lanes.  They’re also planning to more than double the security lanes to 24.

Two more big changes are in the wings.  To make room for all this expansion (and to improve traffic flow), they’d like to move Donelson Pike a little to the east.  This would require the cooperation of the state, though, since it’s a state highway.  And then there’s hope for a 200- to 300-room hotel, though they don’t yet have any partners in that enterprise.

They even made a video for you:

According to airport chief Rob Wigington,

“By 2035, the population of the Greater Nashville Area is expected to surpass 2.5 million people, and Nashville International Airport’s passenger traffic will grow from 12 million today to more than 20 million. We are experiencing this rapid growth firsthand as we set new air passenger records every week, month and year. The projects comprising our BNA Vision are designed to meet the demands of this growth and address everything from international travel, to improved security wait times to more gates, parking and ease of access– all with passenger safety and convenience in mind. We’re excited to share this vision and provide a glimpse of how BNA will transform over the next several years.”

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Design session proposes land bridges over I-40 in North Nashville

In addition to the 4 land bridges, revitalization of the neighborhood could include resident-led development on Jefferson St.  Planners also suggested a few roundabouts and wider sidewalks along the neighborhood’s main corridor.  Nashville Public Radio reports.

Earlier: North Nashville’s I-40 divide to be considered at federally-sponsored design session

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North Nashville’s I-40 divide to be considered at federally-sponsored design session

When Interstate 40 was built through North Nashville in 1968, it cut off this vibrant African American community from many of its businesses, especially ones along Jefferson St.  And now the U.S. Department of Transportation wants to rectify that.

In October 1967, a group of neighborhood activists organized as the I-40 Steering Committee to file suit against the state over the route of the new highway.  They claimed that the route was discriminatory because it cut the predominately minority neighborhood in half.  The group argued that the highway would discourage citizens from walking or driving to the other side to patronize businesses on Jefferson St, forcing many of them to close, and cutting people off from North Nashville’s universities.  On top of that, many residents of the neighborhood were forced to abandon their homes to make way for the new Interstate.

They were ultimately defeated, however.  The court agreed with the state that the route was not discriminatory and that neighborhood residents had been given sufficient notice to express their concerns about the route.

The effect on the community was devastating, as the Tennessee State Museum wrote:

Many of the predictions by the Steering Committee came to pass. Within a year of construction, the majority of the businesses in the area had suffered financially. Many closed. The value of housing had dropped more than 30 percent. Many people feel that this community has never fully recovered from the traumatic effects of the highway.

But now, Nashville has been selected as a winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Every Place Counts Design Challenge for its proposal to restitch North Nashville back together and to reconnect the neighborhood with its vibrant past:

Nashville’s I-40 was built through several predominantly African American, middle class neighborhoods in the 1960s, displacing  residents and dividing a thriving community. Nashville plans to utilize well-established community partnership networks, gather input from community residents and business owners, host design sessions, synthesize ideas, and pursue implementation funds through its two-day design session.

Metro Councilman Freddie O’Connell is hoping that this design session will involve Jefferson St in a major way, though he’s still seeking clarification on the details.  “Huge opportunity for Nashville to begin repairing some of the damage done by I-40 to Jefferson St.,” he tweeted today.

The design session will happen in Nashville July 11–12 and will involve “elected officials, urban planners, designers, and a cross-section of local residents,” according to the Department of Transportation.

Other cities selected for the design challenge include Spokane, Wash., Philadelphia, Pa., and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.  All of the cities are trying to address problems created when Interstate highways split communities in two.

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Nashville interstates a little gummed up today

Today, as people travel home from this weekend’s dual music festivals — CMA Fest in downtown Nashville and Bonnaroo in Manchester — travel on the interstates around here is a little slow.  Bonnaroo wrapped up its last concert at 3 AM this morning, and folks have to vacate the campground by 11 AM (which also makes for very sleepy drivers):

Meanwhile, CMA Fest ended with a bang at 11:30 last night with its last concert at Nissan Stadium.

Just to add insult to injury, a tractor trailer flipped this morning on I-40 near its merge with I-24, east of the city.  Officials are completely closing down both directions of I-40 from 9 AM till at least 2 PM for a hazmat cleanup — there’s fiberglass, resin, and fuel on and near the roadway.

And folks are not happy about it, to give just a few examples:

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It City Falls

It’s a spot often missed by the droves of tourists on Lower Broadway, but It City Falls is a sight to see:

This spot, which cannot be hiked to because it’s on an Interstate, is on I-40/24 E right before the two split.  Seasoned locals recommend going to see it at rainy times, both because that’s the only time the waterfall is flowing and because traffic is guaranteed to be slow.

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