NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s becoming a holiday tradition in Nashville: the line of drivers trying to get into the airport stretches so long that some people end up lugging their suitcases along the side of the interstate to try to make their flights.
With Thanksgiving just one week away, Nashville International Airport (BNA) is trying to direct travelers to alternate routes so they’re not all lining up at one exit.
“We actually opt to drive during the holidays just to avoid all of the hecticness of the airport, so this will be my last time in the airport before the holidays,” said Bridgete Alfonso, a traveler using BNA to fly for business.
However, the wait for some flyers might begin long before they reach their terminal. This is due to congestion, which causes delays.
“It does, especially the Uber situation, the underground lot when it comes to the public transport. It can be a little hairy getting in there during peak hours, for sure,” said Douglas May, a Nashville resident preparing to leave town ahead of the travel rush.
It’s not uncommon to see lines spanning on Interstate 40 East from Exit 216A. As a result, BNA officials are trying to address the problem. All you have to do is look for the signs.
“The signs went up about a month ago, directing people to use alternate routes to get to BNA,” said Stacey Nickens, the vice president of corporate communications for BNA.
Airport staff predict Sunday, Nov. 19; Wednesday, Nov. 22; and Sunday, Nov. 26 will be the busiest for travelers.
Billboards around Nashville tell people two alternate ways to get to the airport: Exit 216B and Murfreesboro Pike. You can find the digital signs on Interstate 65 South, south of Armory Drive (Exit 79), and on I-40 East, west of Hermitage Avenue (Exit 212).
“What we’re seeing is that everybody’s using the same exit to enter the airport, and honestly, it’s just a lot more people traveling through BNA, so this doesn’t look like the same BNA six months ago and it surely doesn’t look like the same BNA 10 years ago,” Nickens described. “It’s just a lot of different steps that you have to use to navigate the airport.”
Beyond Thanksgiving, plans are in place to help with traffic patterns.
“We’re in the process of expanding the roadway coming from 40, we’re working on going from one lane to two, so that’s one of the immediate things that we have taking place now,” Nickens explained. “You’ll see the construction and the cones that will help alleviate that, get more people in and out on time. We also have more staff working to direct traffic.”
Some travelers believe, while fixing the traffic backups might seem slow, it’s headed in the right direction.
“We’ve been through a lot of upgrades here at the airport over the last few years, and I know the traffic pattern hasn’t been the priority, but seems like it’s getting that way,” May said.