It’s almost time for the most intense part of Nashville’s huge bridge replacement project near downtown. Starting Friday, parts of Interstate 40 will be closed on 13 weekends from July through October. But a feat of engineering will save drivers from even worse delays.
Crews have already been working on the project for almost a year. It’s called the “Fast Fix 8” — a zippy little name for demolishing eight 1960s-era bridges. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) needs to do this in busy downtown Nashville, so planners chose to completely close parts of the interstate loop. That sounds dramatic, but TDOT spokeswoman B.J. Doughty said drivers would have hated the alternative.
“If we were not doing this project this way, we’d be looking at about three years’ worth of permanent lane closures, and we just can’t do that.”
TDOT released a video showing how the process will work. On Friday nights, the interstate will close between the I-40 and I-65 splits. Bridge spans on four streets — in two directions each — will be demolished and hauled away, with prefab panels put in place, all within about 56 hours.
It will be an intense 13 weekends. But with that, Doughty said construction crews will be putting on something of a show: big trucks will roll massive hunks of concrete and steel down the highway. These are the pre-made bridge spans that must be lifted into place.
“It will be impressive,” Doughty said. “Particularly the Charlotte Bridge, there’s a crane — I’m no expert on cranes — but this is a really big one and it’s coming from Canada ... like a 650-ton crane, that it will hold that kind of weight.”
It’s a project that’s pure candy for construction gurus — but still plenty of driving detours for everyone else.