Interstate 840 Tennessee
The complete path of Tennessee 840 as envisioned by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. A short overlap of Interstate 40 and Tennessee 840 was proposed in the vicinity of Lebanon. The southern half of the beltway was completed as Tennessee 840, but is proposed to be redesignated as I-840 in 2015..
Originally tapped to be a full 187-mile beltway of the metropolitan Nashville area, Tennessee 840 (Future Interstate 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 planned 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Interstate designation was planned originally, but later withdrawn because funding was derived from Tennessee state sources such as gas and diesel taxes, license plate renewal fees and other highway user fees.1 Additionally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-govenror Lamar Alexander's 1968 "Bicentennial Parkway" road program.9 However an application to AASHTO by TDOT was approved to upgrade the state route to Interstate 840 on May 15, 2015.
The northern half of the beltway is still on paper only, as no construction has taken 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 are cited as reasons for the halting 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
The first leg of Tennessee 840 to open to traffic is the 23.8-mile link between Interstate 24 and Interstate 65 south of Nashville. This segment opened in four stages:
- From Stewart's Ferry Pike to Interstate 40 near Gladeville - 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 this point.13
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 has been discontinued.2
The westernmost portion of Tenneseee 840, between I-40 near Burns and TN 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 project between Tennessee 100 and Tennessee 46 (Pinewood Road) in June 2007. A second contract involving the building of the next 7.9 miles of freeway between Tennessee 6 (Columbia Pike) to Leipers Creek Road was let in December 2008. Work on the entire 20.9 miles of unconstructed roadway was completed on November 6, 2012. The beltway cost $753 million to build, up from the $351 million projected in 1986.
|The west end of Tennessee 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 Tennessee 840 east
||This sign bridge separates traffic beyond the stub end of Tennessee 840 east for I-40 west back to Nashville and east to nearby Lebanon. Photo taken by Dan Garnell (05/02/02).
|Perspective from Interstate 40 west
||Approaching the trumpet interchange (Exit 235) with Tennessee 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.
"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.
Page Updated June 1, 2015.