By 2027, an entirely new intersection will seamlessly take drivers to Nashville International Airport from the east.
Before that, drivers must prepare for shifting slopes, decelerations and other growing pains.
Behind temporary airport walls, about 1,000 workers are busy building a new and improved airport in Nashville.
“We’ve raised the ceiling 14 feet from where it was before, we have a two-story opening here, so it’s going to be pretty big,” said British News Agency chief engineer Tracy Holton, reviewing the new lobby, which will boast a central security barrier with 24 lanes. , along with a large number of glass and natural light.
“It should be a faster, more direct experience,” Holton said.
BNA and New Horizons vision plans are being worked on in phases. The new lobby opens in January. Once all renovations are completed over the next six years, BNA is preparing to be even busier.
By that time, the airport will have expanded with more than twenty gates, with a total of 69 gates.
“We’ve had record growth, we’ve set records on the last two Sundays in a row, and that growth is why we’re doing all of this,” said Holton.
On Sunday, September 18, more than 36,000 passengers departed Nashville Airport. This was more than ever – breaking the record set only the previous Sunday.
The airport is expected to receive 30 million passengers annually by 2041.
“We started with a $1.2 billion (expansion) program, and now we’re close to $3 billion,” Holton laughed.
The airport generates its own revenue to cover construction costs.
Along with airport expansion, roads need to accommodate more cars as they drop off, pick up, park and maneuver in the area. TDOT says its project, currently in its early stages across the highway, will help.
The contractors have just started the initial dirt work that will move the engaged shaft.
“Nashville is a fast-growing city,” TDOT project supervisor Sarah Fugate said as she stood at the site just north of Interstate 40, and just east of Donelson Pike. “This is actually going to be the new Donelson Pike where we’re standing. You’re going to come straight from here and turn around and connect with the current Donelson Pike.”
TDOT plans to keep the existing Donelson Pike Bridge but rename it after crews built an entirely new junction in the east. The transformation will allow the airport to double its current loop: from 1 to 2 miles and from three to six lanes.
“There will be a lot of capacity on the roads and I hope it will be easier to make decisions and more time to make those decisions,” Holton said in the Bahrain News Agency.
The new Donelson Pike Interchange will flow differently than drivers might expect. It is the second Divided Diamond Interchange in Central Tennessee, or DDI, after the first opening at Highway 24 and Hickory Hollow Pkwy.
In DDI, traffic turns to the left side of the road to cross the bridge, before turning back to the right, alleviating the need for drivers to turn left to cross oncoming traffic.
“It’s basically going to be the same as turning right, but you’re turning left,” Fugit said, explaining it’s a strategy that is growing in popularity when interstate slopes are expected to be crowded.
After a TDOT worker hit a pipeline, and a subsequent lawsuit and cleanup, two road projects were delayed. Now, airport officials hope to have their routes fully completed in 2028, a year after the deadline for the TDOT project on which they depend.
Changing routes will be the last step to help deal with the load as Nashville’s airport gets busier. Airport staff hope the right infrastructure will help set a certain tone.
“Maybe the invite is the word, and hopefully it’s a calming experience,” Holton said. “Because travel can be stressful.”