Civil engineer breaks down 2018 I-40 bridge inspection report

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 10:52 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Bridge inspector Monty Frazier was fired last week after not following proper protocol in 2019 and 2020 to see a growing crack in the I-40 bridge.

The Arkansas Department of Transpiration (ARDOT) used a completely different inspector for the I-40 bridge inspection in 2018. One expert said there’s evidence that he was feet away from the crack and still somehow missed it.

WMC Action News 5 received a copy of the 2018 inspection report of the I-40 Hernando-Desoto Bridge where the inspector made numerous notes of corrosion and rust, but nothing about a crack in the support beam that we now know was there just a year later in 2019.

Something about the inspector’s pictures in 2018 caught a University of Memphis civil engineer’s eye.

“That’s span B, so that’s the span that had the crack,” said civil engineer Adel Abdelnaby. “Yes. So, he was close enough and he had access unlike other reports.”

Abdelnaby has inspected the I-40 bridge numerous times and says engineers should physically touch the entire bridge using special equipment like a snooper to inspect the under bridge.

According to a memo, 2019 and 2020 team leader Monty Frazier told officials he didn’t follow protocol due to safety concerns. ARDOT disputes that claim.

Abdelnaby says he can look at the 2019 and 2020 bridge inspection photos and see that inspectors stayed primarily on the catwalk, not getting close enough to see the growing crack.

But 2018 was different.

“The inspector was actually walking on the tie beam or standing on the tie beam where he is taking the pictures, so he had access in 2018 and they didn’t see the crack. So, that’s the main thing that surprised me when I saw the report pictures,” said Abdelnaby.

ARDOT officials have confirmed that drone footage shows a crack was present as early as 2019, but photos taken by Barry Moore in 2016 while kayacking show what appears to be a less developed crack in the bridge.

“My jaw dropped. Yeah, 2016 the crack is half past the box beam. That really took me aback.”

ARDOT officials have not commented on Moore’s photos.

An ARDOT spokesperson said they don’t have any response Monday to something that “may” have happened in 2018.

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