Interstate 840 Tennessee
The projected path of SR 840 north as envisioned by the Tennessee Department of Transportation in 2003 included an overlap with I-40 in the vicinity of Lebanon. The southern half of the beltway was fully completed in 2012 while the northern half was canceled. The entire length of SR 840 was designated as Interstate 840 by August 2016.6
Originally tapped to be a full 187-mile beltway of the metropolitan Nashville area, Tennessee 840 connects Interstate 40 near Pomona to Interstate 40 near Lebanon. The beltway was touted as an answer to regional traffic needs so that the existing Nashville freeways could better support local traffic. Similar to the outer beltway (Grand Parkway / SH 99) of Houston, Tennessee 840 comprises a complete bypass of the metropolitan area, providing a through route for the movement of goods and services. Critics of the beltway however worry that the new freeway will open up lands for unprecedented commercial and residential development.
Interstate designation was planned originally for SR 840, but later withdrawn because funding was derived from Tennessee state sources such as gas and diesel taxes, license plate renewal fees and other highway user fees.1 Additionally the route fell under then-governor Lamar Alexander's 1968 "Bicentennial Parkway" road program.4 An application to AASHTO by TDOT to upgrade the state route to Interstate 840, however, was approved on May 15, 2015.
Final approval from the Federal Highway Administration was given to TDOT August 2016 to officially designate all of SR 840 as I-840.6 The change in designation will allow further economic growth along the I-840 corridor and encourage more traffic diversion around the central Nashville area. Signage along the corridor will be erected starting mid August, with a $230,000 price tag and a completion date of late 2016.6
The northern half of the beltway is still on paper only, as no construction ever took place. It was announced by the Tennessee Department of Transportation on October 31, 2003, that Tennessee 840 north of Interstate 40 was indefinitely placed on hold. Lawsuits and complaints from homeowners and environmental groups along the planned corridor and the overall need for this element of the beltway were cited as reasons for the cancellation of the project.2
The origins of Tennessee 840 began in 1975 with the recommendation for a beltway of Nashville included in the 1975-79 Tennessee Highway System Plan.2 By 1986, the concept became official upon the proposal of Governor Lamar Alexander for the route and the subsequent approval by the state legislature. The route was included in the Tennessee Better Roads Program. From there planning commenced in 1988 culminating to actual construction by 1991. Newspaper reports referred to the beltway as Interstate 840 rather than Tennessee 840.
In November 1991, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) requested that the proposed Interstate 840 be added to the Interstate Highway System. This request was submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in accordance with the provisions of 23 USC § 139(b). In January 1992, however, TDOT withdrew this request, and FHWA returned the Agreement for Interstate Highway Construction in the State of Tennessee without signing it. Interstate 840 then became "SR 840S."3
Construction progressed on the south and eastern thirds of the beltway in four stages:
- From Stewart's Ferry Pike near Gladeville to Interstate 40 - open August 1995
- From Interstate 24 in Murfreesboro northeast to Stewart's Ferry Pike - open November 1996
- From U.S. 31A and U.S. 41A near Triune in Williamson County to Interstate 24 - open November 2000
- From Interstate 65 south of Franklin to U.S. 31A/41A - open October 2001
The total length of Tennessee 840 expanded to 47 miles at that point.1,3
In 1993, the General Assembly indicated that TDOT may consider the northern component of the beltway. The department of transportation followed with the release of an environmental impact statement in 1995. By 2003, due to the overall anticipated high costs both economically and socially with the corridor, it was recommended that TDOT withdraw plans to begin work on the northern half of Tennessee 840. Instead attention should be redirected to the expansion of the existing roadway network north of the city. Thus further study of the northern half of the route was discontinued.2
The westernmost portion of Tennessee 840, between I-40 near Burns and SR 100 near Fairview, opened to traffic December 5, 2002.1 This left the section between Tennessee 100 and Interstate 65. Work on this portion began with a 6.1-mile, $44.2-million project between Tennessee 100 and Bending Chestnut Road, just south of Tennessee 46 (Pinewood Road) in July 2007.5 The Williamson County stretch opened following a ribbon cutting ceremony held on October 27, 2010.
Separate projects focused on completing the 11.94 mile link between Bending Chestnut Road and U.S. 31 (Columbia Pike). $87.3-million in construction from Leipers Creek Road east to U.S. 31 (Columbia Pike) started in January 2009. Work on the freeway west from Leipers Creek Road to Bending Chestnut Road followed in March 2010.5 Governor Bill Haslam led a ribbon cutting ceremony at Burwood by the SR 246 interchange to formally open the road on November 2, 2012. The beltway cost $753 million to build,6 up from the $351 million projected in 1986.2
|The west end of Interstate 840 consists of a parclo interchange with Interstate 40 (Exit 176) in a rural area to the southeast of Dickson. Provisions were built at the exchange for a northern extension.
|Perspective from Interstate 840 east
||This sign bridge separates traffic beyond the stub end of Interstate 840 east for I-40 west back to Nashville and east to nearby Lebanon. Photo taken by Dan Garnell (05/02/02).
|Historical Perspective from Interstate 40 west
||Approaching the trumpet interchange (Exit 235) with Tennessee 840 (I-840) along Interstate 40 west. TN 840 angles southwest 23 miles to cross paths with I-24 near Murfreesboro. I-40 enters the city limits of Nashville in 12 miles. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (03/18/01).
State Route 840
Tennessee Department of Transportation project web site.
"TDOT Announces Decision on State Route 840 North." Tennessee Department of Transportation, October 31, 2003.
Tennessee Department of Transportation 15 Project Case Study: Project Assessment Final Report State Route 840 South, by the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee (Dr. Stephen Richards, Team Leader; Dr. David Middendorf; Dr. Fred Wegmann; Dr. Gregory Reed; Dr. Tom Urbanik; Dr. Mary English; Dr. Arun Chatterjee; Dr. John Tidwell) in August 2003 - page 11.
"New Nashville bypass to help Memphis drivers" The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) October 31, 2012.
"840 complete 26 years after project began." Franklin Home Page, November 2, 2012.
Tennessee Adds New 77 Miles of Highway to Interstate System, Tennessee Department of Transportation web site (news section), August 12, 2016.
Page Updated August 14, 2016.