Officials say traffic on Interstate 24 should be less snarled by ongoing roadwork at Kimball and South Pittsburg this year for masses of hungry people headed to the National Cornbread Festival this weekend.
Work on the $13.5 million state project to raise the I-24 bridges over U.S. Highway 72 will continue during the peak festival travel period, but that should not be a problem for travelers, Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said Friday.
The project is slightly ahead of schedule and about five months from completion, she said.
"The contractor is familiar with the Cornbread Festival from last year and will not be working in areas that might cause him to impede traffic," Flynn said.
Crews will not work along Highway 72 but will be working "behind temporary concrete barriers," she said. Crews will keep working at the new on- and off-ramps, on sign installation, a new traffic signal and grading and sodding work, she said.
The cornbread nation headed to South Pittsburg on I-24 Saturday and Sunday should just take their time and think about food as they bring their appetites to the cast iron and cornmeal mecca, National Cornbread Festival Vice President Beth Duggar said Friday.
"I think, basically, it's going to be easier than it was last year," Duggar said. "Just slow down, take your time and come hungry."
Festival officials are expecting good weather and good crowds this year, she said. Last year's festival attendance was down because it came after the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak.
Officials anticipate about 50,000 people over the weekend, she said.