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TDOT leaders consider shutting down 'old' I-55 bridge for two years

TDOT leaders consider shutting down 'old' I-55 bridge for two years
Published: Oct. 8, 2014 at 11:04 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 9, 2014 at 10:15 AM CDT
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Tennessee Department of Transportation is pondering the idea of closing it to traffic for up to...
Tennessee Department of Transportation is pondering the idea of closing it to traffic for up to two years. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A proposal to close the I-55 bridge, also known as the "old bridge," for up to two years is drawing the ire of officials and commuters.

"Trouble" is how West Memphian Bobbie Holley describes the plan. She believes two bridges already create enough headaches.

"When the traffic's bad, they back up in here, over there and everywhere," Holley said. "It's going to be rough."

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is considering closing the old bridge as the Crump Avenue/Riverside Drive interchange is re-constructed.

"It's run its course, it's time for the upgrade, it's time to be replaced," TDOT spokesperson Nichole Lawrence said . "And our structures division has recommended that we do the complete closure."

Civil engineer Eddie Brawley chairs the West Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization, and he is among those expressing concerns about the impact of any closure. He says emergency response times would suffer from a shutdown, along with the economy and travel times.

"You've got to take all of this traffic and put it over on I-40," Brawley said. "You're doubling the traffic, doubling the trucks, wide loads, the whole works."

TDOT contends the closure plan remains a work in progress, and that public hearings will take place before any construction begins.

The current daily traffic count on the "old bridge" is about 40,000 vehicles.

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