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Impact of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge closure

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 11:47 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - More than 50,000 vehicles cross the I-40 bridge every day.

It’s a vital piece of America’s infrastructure for moving traffic and freight around the country.

It took six years to build and was originally supposed to have four arches. The governors of Arkansas and Tennessee cut the ribbon on the new $57 million bridge in August 1973.

Since then, it’s been retrofitted to withstand earthquakes. The mighty LED lights were added in 2018. Every two years, the bridge undergoes a federal inspection.

Most recent was 2019 when the structure supporting the bridge was rated fair. That means the structure is sound, but may have cracking, minor section loss, breaking, or erosion.

Arkansas also performs its own bridge inspections, which was how this crack was noticed.

Arkansas State Senator Keith Ingram of West Memphis worries about the cost of keeping the bridge shut down if repairs take weeks or months.

“This just calls out, we’ve been trying since 1995 for a third bridge. You know, we’ve been unable to get that done. It is such a necessity. There will be a tremendous ripple impact from this closure, especially if it’s for any extended period,” said Ingram.

The next closest place to cross the Mississippi River is Helena, Arkansas or Dyersburg, Tennessee.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is responsible for making repairs to the I-40 bridge. TDOT has scheduled a news conference Wednesday morning.

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