I-40 bridge in Memphis scheduled to partially reopen next week

July 28, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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After being shut down for more than two months, the Arkansas Department of Transportation is announcing that the I-40 bridge will partially reopen.

On Wednesday, July 28, ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor announced that the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River, also known as the Hernando de Soto Bridge, is scheduled to reopen to limited traffic. Specifically, all I-40 eastbound lanes are expected to open at 6 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 2. All westbound lanes are expected to open Friday, Aug. 6. ARDOT did not have an exact time for westbound lanes to reopen as of publication.

As of Wednesday, officials expected contractors to complete the third and final phase of the I-40 bridge repairs on Friday, July 30. According to a news release, crews are expected to begin to demobilize, break down platforms, and remove equipment and barriers starting with the eastbound direction. They will do this one side at a time to maintain safety for the workers.

I-40 bridge ultra sound testing
Crews discovered additional, unexpected repairs on the I-40 bridge in Memphis following ultrasound testing, extending the reopening date. (Credit: Arkansas Department of Transportation)

Reopening dates for the I-40 bridge were set under the assumption that no complications occur during the final repairs. ARDOT said it plans to release another update on July 30 regarding the Aug. 2 reopening date.

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.