CROSS PLAINS, Tenn. (WKRN) — The I-65 widening project, which is supposed to ease traffic and improve safety on the roadway once it’s complete, could be doing the opposite during the construction phase, one Portland woman told News 2.

Elizabeth Thomas drives from Portland to Nashville every day and said she has noticed more crashes and aggressive driving on a section of I-65 recently.

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“They’re texting, not paying attention, and quite honestly it appears they don’t care because they’re weaving in and out,” Thomas said.

On Nov. 9, the problems mounted when there was an 11-car pileup on I-65, causing an hours-long delay. Thomas was stuck in the traffic, and after seeing the crash, she fears for the safety of her family. “As a mother of a son, my youngest son who is driving, it’s very scary for me.”

Thomas told News 2 she believes some of the issues started when the Tennessee Department of Transportation began its I-65 widening project between mile markers 112 and 121.

According to TDOT and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security data, there were 12 crashes on I-65 in that section in 2020, however, since construction started, that number has doubled.

Thomas said she thinks other drivers might be frustrated by the construction after crews narrowed the lanes and lowered the speed limit to 60 MPH on the section of I-65.

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She believes the crashes could easily be avoided if people slow down and pay attention.

“I’m just really frustrated because it’s just unnecessary to drive that way and put people’s lives in danger. That’s the main thing, just slow down, it’s dangerous for everybody,” Thomas said. “I just think it’s senseless to be driving that way when there are enough deaths in the world, and this is something that can be controlled.”

The I-65 widening project is set to be completed by the end of 2025. TDOT is currently working on widening the 25.8 miles of roadway in sections.