Leaders on both sides of the Mississippi River say now is the time for a new bridge

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 10:24 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Wednesday’s chaotic events on both the old and new bridge at the Tennessee-Arkansas state line have renewed the talks of the importance of another bridge in the Memphis area.

Leaders say there are efforts being made in both states to make that happen.

Both West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon and Tennessee State Representative Joe Towns (D-Memphis) say now is the time for a new bridge while there is money at the federal and state level to make it happen.

“It’s something that the citizens need, the commerce industry needs, and we need it for safety, and just for living,” said Rep. Towns.

“It’s not a want anymore, it’s a necessity. Let’s get this done here where it meets the demand,” said Mayor McClendon.

The West Memphis mayor said a third bridge would help divert traffic to go around the city instead of going through it.

“So, when they get in our community and city, we don’t have all those infrastructure dollars to be able to repair the streets,” said McClendon.

Rep. Towns said he has spoken with the U.S. Department of Transportation several times and they support a new bridge.

Towns told Action News 5 that there is money for it.

“The infrastructure money that is in the White House or at the national level, you blend that with the money that we would put there, and you blend that with the money that would come from Arkansas, this would probably be the least cost that we would all have to pay to attain this bridge,” he said.

Where this hypothetical bridge would go has been heavily debated, but Rep. Towns says the new bridge would likely be just north of Shelby Forest State Park.

In Arkansas, McClendon, who is advocating for a new bridge in West Memphis, said Arkansas officials claim they are on board, but he is just waiting on them to make a move.

“[They’re] saying that we need to do it, but I need to see something in action. I am so tired of the political BS when it comes to doing right by the people,” said McClendon.

As a heads up, if you normally use the I-55 bridge, it’s going to be closed over the weekend while TDOT completes more work on the Crump interchange project.

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