SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – There is some good news for drivers in Sevier County as another phase of the Improving 66 project on Highway 66 has been completed.
Construction has been going on for years there, and now all three southbound lanes of Highway 66 are open in Sevierville. The Sevierville Police Department says work will continue on the shoulder and median areas, and turning lanes.
Sevier County residents and millions of tourists each year the 8.4 mile stretch to get to the popular destinations.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation decided nearly seven years ago to add more lanes to handle the heavy traffic flow.
“Normally it’s very congested and hard to move around, but the last few weeks it’s seemed to clear up a little bit,” said Joey Davis.
Davis works at the La Quinta in overlooking Highway 66 and has seen several issues over time. Since July of 2009 it has been a maze of traffic cones and lane closures.
“I’m so sick of seeing cones,” said Terra Draves at the French’s Boots store on Highway 66.
Last month, all three lanes were opened for northbound traffic and part of the southbound section with just a small piece still down to two lanes.
“Most people comment that they’ve been coming here for years and have seen the construction ongoing, and they seem to be happy that there’s been progress here recently,” said Davis.
People who drive Highway 66 regularly say during the busy seasons they’ve seen traffic back up for miles sometimes, but they say since these new lanes have been open they’ve already noticed a big difference.
“Actually I haven’t seen any traffic for once, so it’s pretty nice,” said Draves.
As construction draws to a close just in time for the busy summer season many drivers are looking forward to the future for Highway 66.
“It’s going to help the whole community, the whole area. Get in and out of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and easier access to us!” said Davis.
TDOT says the entire project should be finished by the end of this summer.