Sylva - The present pains for drivers on Interstate 40 in Haywood County are temporary.
The N.C. Department of Transportation and Harrison Construction Company are implementing new traffic control procedures this week on I-40 westbound to alleviate significant congestion while crews improve bridges between Exits 27 and 20.
Signs direct I-40 through traffic to merge left and drivers wanting to take U.S. 74 to remain in the right lane.
"These improvements are the most important projects we have going," Division 14 construction engineer Ted Adams said. "We are making progress at a much faster rate than the original contract because we want to complete the work as soon as possible."
The entire scope of the project is on pace to be finished a full year ahead of the originally scheduled completion date.
All significant improvements over the eastbound bridges were completed in time to remove lane restrictions for Memorial Day weekend traffic. Another crew will continue paving the eastbound lanes.
In a similar manner to five weeks ago, lane restrictions on I-40 will also be lifted on Thursday July 1 and all lanes will be open through July 9 to allow holiday traffic to flow at a traditional pace.
Once crews return, they will continue working on the bridges closest to Asheville then move to bridges closer to the Pigeon River Gorge. They will need 4-6 weeks to complete the comprehensive rehabilitation, then the major lane closures will be lifted.
All major lane closures should conclude by Labor Day weekend. The project is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving.
"We've seen an increase in traffic and we are responding to the need to keep people and trucks moving through this area," Adams said. "We are delighted that this safety project will be done 12 months ahead of schedule."
Visit www.DriveNC.gov for real-time traffic information and follow NCDOT on Twitter.