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Transportation secretary to visit closed interstate bridge

Transportation secretary to visit closed interstate bridge
This Friday, May 14, 2021, photo shows the Interstate 40 Bridge linking Tennessee and Arkansas at Memphis, Tenn. The bridge has been closed since May 11, when a fracture was found in one of its steel beams. On Thursday, June 3, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will visit Memphis to see the bridge spanning the Mississippi River. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will visit the Interstate 40 bridge connecting Tennessee and Arkansas on Thursday, June 3. The span was closed lasts month when a fracture was found in one of its steel beams.

The bridge visit comes as President Biden is pushing for a major infrastructure package, while Republican senators want a more modest investment in roads, highways and other traditional public works projects.

The I-40 bridge connecting Memphis and the Arkansas city of West Memphis was shut down May 11 after inspectors found a crack in one of two 900-foot horizontal steel beams that are critical for the bridge’s structural integrity.

Officials have said the bridge could be closed for months. The first phase of repairs to the bridge were completed last week, and Tennessee transportation officials said they hope to release a schedule this week for the bridge’s reopening.

An Arkansas inspector was fired for missing the crack in the bridge’s 2019 and 2020 inspections. Photos taken by a Mississippi River kayaker in 2016 appear to show the fracture, raising questions about how early it first appeared.

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