Memphis Chamber pushes for new bridge over Mississippi River

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 11:08 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It may seem like discussion of a third bridge has only picked up steam lately, but in reality it’s been around for over a decade.

“So, what happened with the crack had nothing to do with an effort already underway,” said Bobby White, chief of public policy officer with the Greater Memphis Chamber.

He says the chamber first made a coordinated effort with local and regional leaders back in 2010 to get a third bridge over the Mississippi into Memphis. However, by 2012, no pun intended, the idea was dead in the water.

“I think we had some folks at the state level who saw this as just something needed to be put on the back burner,” said White who said funding was the biggest issue.

Two years ago, the chamber renewed the effort, thanks to more relaxed environmental requirements among other factors. Also, the cost to get it off the ground is much more reasonable.

White says thousands of vehicles cross the I-40 bridge every day. Many are  trucks carrying goods across the country.

Tuesday’s emergency closure of I-55,  the only working bridge over the Mississippi into Memphis,  is why many say adding an additional bridge is absolutely necessary.

“It is a critical lifeline for not just Memphis’ economy, but international commerce and supply chain as well,” said White.

While there have been some elected officials speak out recently in support of a new bridge, other top leaders are not on board.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said two weeks ago in Memphis, he’s not ready to talk about an additional bridge just yet. However,  local business leaders truly believe the time is now.

White says chamber members have been lobbying for Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to come to Memphis for quite some time and when they get the chance, discussion of federal funding for a third bridge will be on the table.

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