Mid-South governors visit Memphis ahead of I-40 bridge repairs
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson arrived in the Bluff City Tuesday to check out the I-40 bridge which remains closed to drivers.
During the visit, Lee and Hutchinson addressed the need for immediate federal action on infrastructure.
“We are making swift progress on repairs to the Hernando de Soto bridge to ensure safety and a return to uninterrupted commerce,” said Lee. “While Congress ponders the definition of infrastructure, we call upon the federal government to prioritize the safety of actual roads and bridges.”
Both governors say officials are working to be as transparent as possible regarding the ordeal.
After going a week with no cars crossing, we’ll begin to see some life on the bridge as repairs get underway.
Wednesday, Stupp Bridge Company in Bowling, Kentucky will deliver 11,000 pounds of steel to Memphis for a temporary fix by putting steel plates on both sides of the fractured support beam underneath the bridge. TDOT also selected Kiewit Corporation as the contractor to help complete the repairs.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation says it’s possible the repairs could take months.
Currently, the state of Tennessee is responsible for financing the project, but Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen says he’s already lobbying for federal funds.
“We’ll get together and lobby, make calls, we’ll sign letters,” said Cohen.
According to state officials, American Rescue Plan funds cannot be used for road, highway or bridge infrastructure. But under President Biden’s Infrastructure Bill, 10 bridges would receive federal funds.
Cohen says if the bill passes, the I-40 bridge would be a great candidate, considering it is a critical artery for providing millions of goods across the country.
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