Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - Updated: 2:07 AM
Motorists traveling Interstate 24 through western Kentucky will face increased traffic volumes now through mid-April.
Each year I-24 sees a surge of traffic as college students and families from northern states on Spring Break Head to beach areas along the Gulf Coast and in Florida.
"On Friday, there is a major surge of traffic along the eastbound lanes of I-24 almost every week. That surge becomes more pronounced along the 93-mile long corridor starting in mid-March and continuing into April. Spring Break also creates a surge along the westbound lanes as vacationers return home, mainly on weekends," said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 & 2 Public Information Officer Keith Todd.
This time period also includes Easter holiday travel. While not as significant as increased flow traffic during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday driving period, motorists will notice significantly heavy traffic along the corridor.
The surge is also indicated by increased sales at convenience stores and truck stops along I-24 through Kentucky. Todd said that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet does not specifically conduct traffic count studies during holiday periods, so the surge is difficult to quantify.
"The I-24 Spring Break surge is mainly noticeable to drivers who find the heavier than normal traffic makes it difficult to use a cruise control even along more rural sections of the corridor, especially during commuter hours with increased local traffic," Todd said.
Peak traffic counts along I-24 occur in the Paducah area and near the Kentucky-Tennessee State Line in the Hopkinsville-Ft. Campbell area. I-24 between Exit 3 and Exit 16 at Paducah carries peaks out at about 44,546 vehicles in an average day while the traffic count near the I-24/US 41-Alternate Interchange in Christian County run about 44,505 vehicles in an average day. Rural areas in between carry between 16,000 and 30,000 vehicles per day. About 15 percent of that is truck traffic.
This year travelers along the I-24 Corridor in Kentucky will encounter a work zone traffic shift for I-69 Upgrades at the I-24/Purchase Parkway Exit 25 Interchange near Calvert City. The contractor in this work zone is maintaining 2 lanes of traffic in each direction. However, the work one does have a traffic shift to a temporary diversion for both directions and a 55 mile per hour work zone speed limit.
Motorists will also encounter a lane restriction for joint replacement work on the I-24 Tennessee River Bridge at milepoint 29.5. Currently this work zone has a westbound only lane restriction with the likelihood that work will move to the eastbound lanes in mid to late-April. Motorists can avoid occasional traffic backups at this work zone by self-detouring along US 62 and KY 453 between Exit 27 and Exit 31.