MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Phase 1 of repairs to the Interstate 40 Hernando DeSoto Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River between West Memphis, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tenn., are complete, according to a May 25 statement from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Work on Phase 1 began over the weekend and continued into Monday.
According to TDOT, crews from Kiewit Infrastructure Groups worked 24-hour shifts to install steel plates on either side of the damaged 900-foot beam, providing the stability required to install the equipment needed for Phase 2 of the repairs. Crews are now cleaning up the worksite and extending the platform.
Design plans for Phase 2 — the removal and replacement of the damaged piece — are being finalized. TDOT has not offered an estimated reopening date for the bridge.
The bridge was shut down Tuesday, May 11, after the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) found what was then described as a “crack” during a routine inspection. Subsequent inspections revealed the damage to be a significant fracture to the one of two 900-foot horizontal steel beams that are crucial for the bridge’s integrity, said Lorie Tudor, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT).
While ARDOT is responsible for routine and special inspections of the structure, TDOT is responsible for physical maintenance and repairs.
While the I-40 bridge is closed, all interstate traffic in the Memphis area is being rerouted to I-55, which crosses the Mississippi River a few miles south of I-40.
To help alleviate congestion along I-55 because of the additional traffic, TDOT completed a restriping project and closed ramps around the I-55/Crump Interchange. Click here for a list of ramp closures and detours. Travelers can check for live traffic information through TDOT’s SmartWay cameras posted at the east and west approaches of I-55 to the bridge; click here for the west approach, and here for the east approach.
TDOT reported a 40% reduction in travel time on the I-55 bridge, with a 27-minute delay on May 24 compared to a 47-minute delay on May 17.
Check TheTrucker.com regularly for updates on the I-40 bridge repairs. In addition, TDOT has created a webpage to keep the public updated of the progress work on the bridge, and ARDOT has a similar webpage.