I-40 bridge shut down as crews inspect a crack in the structure

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 9:49 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It has been almost eight hours since the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River was shut down in both directions because a crack was found by an inspector.

Police have entrances blocked.

The I-55 bridge is south of the I-40 bridge, but there are major backups because of the overflow. It’s taking drivers who want to cross the I-55 bridge in either direction a long time to do so with traffic backed up.

“About 45 minutes, I’ve tried to work from Danny Thomas over this way to try to beat it and didn’t beat it. Still in it,” said Arkansas resident.

It started at 2:30 p.m. when both lanes of the I-40 bridge were shut down after a routine inspection spotted a crack on the bottom side of the bridge truss.

“When they noticed the crack in the structure, they actually called 911, worked with local authorities from Memphis is my understanding, to get it shut down,” said Dave Parker, Arkansas director of transportation.

On the Tennessee side, Memphis police blocked entrances to the bridge that spans the Mississippi River. It is creating headaches for truckers as well because of the backup on the I-55 bridge that is hand, I get the overflow.

Mike Degrafenreid, who is piloting a wide load heading to Pennsylvania, came to Memphis to eat.

“When we came across, it was fine. So, I went to come back, but because my travel truck is stuck up that way, wouldn’t let us go. Had to send us back across the other small bridge south of us on 55,” explained Degrafenreid.

Degrafenreid isn’t going anywhere for now.

“I’m going to go to a motel, relax for the night, and try again in the morning,” he said.

There’s no word yet on what may have caused the crack that caused the massive traffic mess. Drones are being used to determine the extent of the damage to keep personnel and equipment off the bridge.

“It’s going to be kind of interesting,” Degrafenreid said.

Inspectors do not know when the I-40 bridge will reopen.

WMC Action News 5 has been told it could be Wednesday or as long as a week from now.

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