MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Both the Tennessee and Arkansas departments of transportation have said that there is currently no timeline available for the reopening of the Interstate 40 bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Arkansas and Tennessee after a crack was discovered Tuesday, May 11 prompting an emergency closure.
Both departments hosted news conferences on May 12 to discuss the crack, which was found during a routine inspection of the bridge.
The crack, which was described as a “significant fracture” by ARDOT, is in a structural beam that is a key component of the bridge. Further investigation and discussions about the eventual remedy are ongoing; more details will be released once the extent of the crack is assessed.
ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor said the bridge conveys 41,000 vehicles each day, 30% of them commercial vehicles.
Although the financial responsibility for the bridge is shared between TDOT and ARDOT, Tudor said funding to fix the bridge would not be an issue.
“Don’t worry about the funding,” Tudor said. “We’ll get that bridge up and running. If we have to go straight to Washington, we’ll get it running.”
TDOT Community Relations Officer Nichole Lawrence tweeted that “the inspection is still underway and could take a couple weeks to complete. A timeline will be shared as soon as we have one.” In that tweet, photos of the crack in the bridge were also released.
Today TDOT officials held a press event to talk about the I-40 Hernando DeSoto Bridge closure. The inspection is still underway, and could take a couple weeks to complete. A timeline will be shared as soon as we have one. Continue to use alternate routes. pic.twitter.com/Zfz4izuyED
— Nichole Lawrence (@NicLawrenceTDOT) May 12, 2021
In the meantime, motorists are directed to continue to use the Interstate 55 bridge, south of the I-40 bridge, to cross the river.