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NASHVILLE -- With nearly one million motorists expected this July 4 holiday to travel on Tennessee interstates and highways, state officials say they are suspending construction-related lane closures  starting at noon on Wednesday.

Tennessee Department of Transportation officials say that will extend through 6 a.m. Monday, July 8 to provide "maximum capacity" for holiday travelers.
 
"It is estimated that 985,000 motorists will travel Tennessee's interstates and state routes this July 4th holiday," TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright said in a news release. "To help motorists reach their destinations safely and without unnecessary delays, we are suspending lane closures during this holiday travel time."

But TDOT officials are cautioning motorists will still face some long-term lane closures at construction project sites. And while lane closure activity will be stopped, workers may be on site in construction zones. And reduced speed limits in work zones will still be in effect.

In 2016, the Tennessee Department of Transportation lost three workers in the line of duty. All three were struck by passing motorists.

Anyone convicted of speeding through work zones where workers are present face a fine of $250 to $500, plus court fees and possible increased insurance premiums.

AAA projects a record breaking 48.9 million Americans will travel this Independence Day weekend, a 4.1% increase over last year. 

Nationally, the July 4 holiday period was the U.S.'s third deadliest holiday in terms of traffic deaths, according to 2011-2015 highway holiday crash data collected by ValuePenguin Inc.  There were 307 fatal accidents on average, a figure exceeded only by the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

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