Exit 407 I-40 to Sevierville history

Garrett Gardner

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Exit 407 is a cultural landmark. Devoid of declaring in which it is located, quite a few men and women already know that it is wherever Point out Route 66 fulfills Interstate 40 in Sevier County.

Although many seem forward to the long term of the exit (these types of as when Buc-ee’s opens this summer time), here’s a glimpse back again at the foundation of this Gateway to the Smokies.

In the 1960s, a discussion was now happening about how tourism could impact areas around the reasonably youthful Great Smoky Mountains Countrywide Park.

Robert Freeman, a planner with the Knoxville Regional Business office of the State Setting up Fee is quoted in a 1963 posting just after speaking in a joint assembly of the Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg organizing commission. Freeman stated then that Sevier County’s foreseeable future would count on vacationers.

Considerably of what Freeman shared in that conference was about how Sevier County wanted buildable land for leisure and municipal facilities and companies, which would involve flood avoidance, and highway and road improvements.

“In most circumstances,” [Freeman] pointed out, “the minimal lands down below the proposed dams, now topic to flooding, is the best buildable land in the space.”

The article also outlined a five-12 months building program by the Tennessee Highway Department that incorporated the growth of Highway 66 north to the foreseeable future Interstate 40 and US 76, and a freeway from Sevierville to Newport that was below building.

All over the same time, operate was staying concluded in Cocke County to extend I-40 to the North Carolina state line, according to a 1963 posting. The posting says that in addition to the challenge of reducing a freeway into the side of the mountains, there ended up also issues crews experienced to perform all-around — these types of as how a lot should really be paid for a mule’s day of work and how to give moonshiners innovative notice that allowed them to go their stills.

Producing Exit 407

Drafts for the Exit 407 interchange day again to the 1970s. Tennessee Division of Transportation Spokesman Mark Nagi shared that the strategies for the bridge about I-40 are dated 1972. Nagi estimates that it would have taken about two many years for the bridge to be finished, so Exit 407 probable opened in 1974.

Given that then, Exit 407 has been rebuilt at the very least two times, Nagi explained. The most latest was in June 2015, when the diverging diamond intersection opened. Every time the intersection was current, it was mainly because targeted traffic by way of the intersection had developed.

In 1973 and 1974, the regular day-to-day traffic of the exit that was expected was 25,800 cars a day. Regular daily targeted visitors has far more than doubled considering the fact that then, achieving an typical day-to-day volume of 50,761 automobiles in 2021.

Gateway to the Smokies

The boost in targeted traffic reflects the growth of tourism recorded in the Great Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park.

Though set up in 1934, visitor use figures date to 1994, a yr when the park noticed 8.6 million people. Since 2012, the park averaged almost 11.5 million visits per yr.

Past 12 months was the next busiest for the nation’s most common countrywide park, with 12.9 million readers. The report is held by 2021 when 14.16 million frequented.

The specific range of people who arrived to the mountains on I-40 is not recognized, but county officials and other folks suspect a massive part did so as a result of the famed Exit 407.

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