I-24 construction

Traffic moves through while construction continues on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 24 on Thursday in Caldwell County. Transportation officials expect the construction zone — which forces traffic into two lanes for 14 miles — will stay up through Thanksgiving.

For nearly five months, drivers have had to deal with a 14-mile work zone along Interstate 24 in parts of Lyon, Caldwell and Trigg counties. Both directions of traffic are limited to one lane, as crews work to pave the eastbound lanes.

“There’s a limited amount of wiggle room in this work zone,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd said Thursday.

The one lane of traffic divided by a concrete barrier has delayed drivers’ commutes and caused traffic to be backed up for miles at times. Since the work zone went up in June, there have been several traffic accidents that have happened within the work zone.

“We’ve had some things like truck fires, we’ve had in a two-week period (where) we had three semis that have run out of fuel in the work zone,” Todd said.

This past weekend several accidents involving semi-trucks happened in the area. The semi-truck wrecks blocked traffic for hours in the work zone. Some drivers tried to turn around in the median onto the side of the interstate that is being paved, which created even more of a traffic nightmare. When incidents like that happen in the work zone, disabled vehicles are stuck because of the concrete barrier that separates traffic.

“If it stops in the wrong place, there’s no place to get it off the road,” Todd explained.

Drivers traveling eastbound on I-24 will notice an electronic sign near Exit 45. The electronic sign has a message telling drivers to not detour there. The Transportation Cabinet had to put the electric sign up because navigation apps like Waze, and Google told drivers that the interstate was closed and that they would have to detour. Todd says the two navigation systems appear to have corrected that error, but before that it caused problems on the route drivers were told to detour on.

“We had several incidence where trucks who were running those real secondary roads, you know got to a tight corner and either overturned or got involved in a crash or something, so we had several issues there,” Todd said.

While holiday travel might not be as heavy because of COVID-19 this year, the transportation cabinet fears the work zone might create traffic woes for Thanksgiving.

“That work zone will probably have to stay through Thanksgiving. So we’re urging everyone local to take a different route,” Todd said.

Todd said the transportation cabinet hopes to be able to take part of the work zone down by the end of the year. He said being able to take down part of the work zone by year’s end depends on if the weather allows crews to finish the eastbound paving by then.

According to Todd, westbound lanes will need some patching once the eastbound work is done. It’s unclear what the traffic plan will be for the westbound lane work.