Extra steps taken to ease holiday traffic and schedule reopening of I-40 bridge

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 5:39 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We are heading into a holiday weekend and with the I-40 bridge still closed for those traveling, you can expect to see some traffic on I-55.

It’s been over two weeks since inspectors discovered a crack on the I-40 bridge.

Since then, we’ve learned repairs will happen in two phases. Phase one was completed Wednesday. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has been working with a contractor on the design for phase two, and developed two repair concepts.

Both TDOT and the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) have agreed to go with the concept that adds additional steel plating adjacent to the damaged area, bypassing the fractured components and removing a smaller section of the fractured piece.

They say this design will require less fabrication time, and offers the advantage of getting the bridge open two to three weeks sooner. With the final design drawings being completed, and the contractor sourcing the steel components for the repairs, TDOT says they intend to have a schedule next week for the bridge reopening. With Memorial Day weekend here, TDOT says they are installing additional cameras to monitoring the Crump Interchange. Additional message boards are also being set up to assist northbound traffic.

Samuel Patterson, owner of Val’s Trucking, says he’d like to see more signage indicating where there are low bridge underpasses.

“To me, I don’t think they have enough visibility to let the drivers know that they got low clearances,” Patterson said.

Patterson says traffic is still a nightmare on I-55, especially for his drivers who have to drive through it daily, often more than once.

“It’s gotten a little better since the first few days of it, but the traffic has increased, so it’s kind of difficult. You have to pick your times to go through there too,” Patterson said.

TDOT estimates 67,000 vehicles use the I-55 bridge every day. As for the report on the I-55 bridge, inspectors continue to review hours of drone video and pictures of the bridge so far nothing concerning.

WMC asked if we can expect the I-55 report bridge Friday or next week, a TDOT spokesperson said “it’s hard to say”.

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