Changes underway to improve traffic flow on I-55 bridge

Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:31 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 4:57 AM CDT
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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) and the City of West Memphis are making traffic changes they hope will shorten the delay getting over the I-55 bridge.

Starting Wednesday at 6 p.m., ARDOT officials shut down several on and off ramps, closed the middle lane, and made other minor changes to traffic patterns near the I-40/I-55 interchange with one goal in mind.

“We know it’s going to be going on for a while. If we can reduce the amount of time and quite honestly, the amount of stress, then I think we’ve accomplished what we’ve wanted to,” said Dave Parker, ARDOT public information officer.

Transportation officials say these plans come from spending a week studying different ideas to reduce congestion over the I-55 bridge as the I-40 bridge remains closed for repairs to a fractured steel beam.

ARDOT says these changes are designed to create a continuous flow of traffic instead of long stoppages.

“We think its going to be a positive move and we’re doing all we can to make things better while we’re going through this period,” said Parker.

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) released a time map Wednesday, showing the hotspots when traffic is the worst over the I-55 bridge.

Eastbound traffic from West Memphis to Memphis is much worse than traveling westbound with delays, eastbound often lasting 60 minutes or more most of the day. Thursday has been the worst day for traffic jams in both directions with at least 45-minute delays eastbound starting at 7 a.m. and lasting until 6 p.m.

A partnership between the City of West Memphis, ARDOT, TDOT and MATA has formed to create a shuttle bus in the morning and evening to help people get over the I-55 bridge easier.

More details about that shuttle program will be announced in the coming days.

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