Interstate bridge over Mississippi River to begin reopening

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Interstate 40 bridge linking Arkansas and Tennessee that was closed after a crack was found in the span will begin reopening to traffic next week, transportation officials said Wednesday.

The Arkansas and Tennessee departments of transportation said the eastbound lanes of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge over the Mississippi River will reopen to limited traffic Monday morning. The span’s westbound lanes are slated to reopen August 6.

The I-40 bridge was shut down May 11 after inspectors found a crack in one of two 900-foot (275-meter) horizontal steel beams critical for the bridge’s structural integrity. Road traffic had been diverted to the nearby Interstate 55 bridge during the I-40 bridge’s repairs.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation, which is charge of the bridge’s inspection, fired an inspector who missed the crack in 2019 and 2020. But pictures from a kayaker indicate the crack was visible in 2016.

The announcement comes days after Tennessee transportation official said the bridge likely wouldn’t reopen until early August. Workers this week finished installing 17 steel plates needed to repair the bridge.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation said the opening plan is barring any complications and planned to put out another update Friday. Workers will begin breaking down platforms and removing equipment on the bridge’s eastbound side starting Friday, officials said.


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