I-40 bridge between Arkansas and Tennessee fully reopens

August 3, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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Several days ahead of schedule, the I-40 bridge in Memphis is completely reopen after a closure that lasted nearly three months.

On Monday, Aug. 2, the Arkansas and Tennessee Departments of Transportation announced that all lanes of the I-40 bridge are open to traffic. Eastbound lanes were opened over the weekend on July 31. As of 1 p.m. on Monday, westbound lanes opened, completely reopening the bridge.

On July 28, ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor announced that the eastbound lanes of the I-40 bridge were scheduled to reopen at 6 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 2. That was under the assumption that no complications occurred during the final repairs. Crews finished up ahead of schedule, allowing the bridge to reopen early. Officials expected westbound lanes to open by Friday, Aug. 6, but were able to move to a full opening four days in advance.

Initially, transportation officials expected to reopen the I-40 bridge at the end of July or Aug. 1.

However, crews discovered additional repairs, extending the closure. In May, contractors announced a two-phase plan for repairs. Phase 1 included the installation of steel plates. Phase 2 dealt with repairing damaged steel. On July 6, the Tennessee Department of Transportation announced that, after inspecting more than 500 weld connections, nine locations were identified that needed additional steel plating, adding a third phase for those repairs.

“Back in May, we speculated that it would be the end of July, first of August, to work through all the phases needed to reopen the bridge,” TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright said in a statement. “We did not know then what all would be involved, but what I do know is we have all been fortunate to have had a great team that personally took on this project and worked tirelessly to safely reopen the bridge as soon as possible.”

The I-40 bridge was shut down on May 11 after a contractor discovered a significant fracture in a steel beam. TDOT and the Arkansas Department of Transportation later discovered that the fracture has been there for at least two years, possibly longer. LL

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.