Does Anyone Else Think Tennessee Needs to Widen Interstate 65?
A couple of weeks ago when Kevin and I drove to Nashville to catch a flight for vacation, it took us nearly four hours to get to Nashville from Owensboro. Traffic on I-65 between the Kentucky-Tennessee border and Nashville was at a virtual standstill. In fact, this kind of gridlock seems to be happening more routinely and traffic flow in and out of that city on I-65 to and from Bowling Green needs to be addressed.
First, let's give major props to the Kentucky Department of Transportation. For the last twenty years, crews have been working to widen the 91-mile stretch between the Tennessee line and Elizabethtown, Kentucky to six lanes. That project was just recently completed, though there is some light road construction work/repair taking place along the corridor- a corridor which is one of the busiest for commercial freight in the country.
In a recent interview with The News-Enterprise, KY Transportation Department Public Information Officer Chris Jessie said one of the goals of the widening project was to "offer more space when dealing with inevitable traffic mishaps." It allows "emergency crews and workers to respond more safely."
Two Fridays ago, as we approached Nashville, a commercial freight carrier veered off I-65 South and brought traffic to a halt. Literally no one could move. The two lanes of traffic headed to Davidson County were at a complete stand still. A third lane could not only have assisted crews in reaching the accident scene, but could have allowed for at least some traffic flow once they got there.
Recently, Dave Spencer was headed to Nashville for one of our monthly backstage broadcasts at The Grand Ole Opry. He never made it on air that afternoon. Traffic issues brought traffic flow from the Tennessee state line into Nashville to a complete halt. He sat on I-65 for three hours . . . and never moved.
And here's another stat that proves that something must be done. Nashville is growing. Quickly. In the last twenty years, the population of the city has increased by over 100,000 people. The population in the city limits has grown nearly 200,000 people in the last forty years. Nashville is a popular city. People want to live there and the population growth illustrates that. But people want to visit too. And it's becoming a crap shoot for people who are driving in from Kentucky.
If you're going to a Titans game or to a concert at Bridgestone, if you're headed to the Grand Ole Opry or the Ryman, or you're planning a shopping trip to Opry Mills, you now have to factor in "what ifs" to your driving time. Kevin and I recently went to see Kelly Clarkson at Bridgestone Arena and traffic delays (a predictable standstill on I-65) caused us to miss the opening act entirely.
This topic has been addressed by the TNDOT. In fact, in 2017, they held a community forum to get feedback from residents near Brentwood. In 2016, TNDOT commissioned a study of traffic flow on 1-65 from Kentucky, through Tennessee, to Alabama. What they found- that the population along that corridor is expected to grow by 1.2 million people by 2040 and the majority of that increase (close to one million people) would be in four counties. And, you guessed it. One of those counties is Davidson- the home of Nashville.
In a summary by the Brentwood Homepage, Landon Woodroof wrote, "Explosive growth means more clogged roadways."
Well, Tennessee, as a Kentuckian, I can assure you . . . your roadways are definitely clogged. It's time to widen the 1-65 from Kentucky to the outskirts of Nashville to six lanes (at least). Please! For the sake of everyone who loves traveling to and through your amazing and vibrant city.