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The Investigators: Can the I-55 bridge handle the extra traffic?

Bridge volume will increase as traffic diverted
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 6:51 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - More than 41,000 vehicles travel on the I-55 bridge on a normal day.

That volume will increase as traffic is diverted indefinitely while repairs are made to the I-40 Hernando de Soto Bridge.

The WMC Action News Five Investigators have been looking into past inspection reports to learn more about the integrity of the I-55 bridge while more cars and trucks travel across it.

Federal data show different parts of the I-55 bridge have been rated in either fair or satisfactory condition; similar ratings as the I-40 bridge though there are a few notable differences.

The I-55 bridge was built in 1949, which is more than twenty years before the I-40 bridge was constructed.

Data from the Federal Highway Administration show both bridges were inspected in late 2019.

Their superstructures, which is where the crack is located on the I-40 bridge, were both rated “fair” at the time.

A fair rating means the structure is sound but there may be signs of cracking.

The big difference between the bridges, however, is their substructure ratings.

The substructure supports the bridge.

While the I-40 bridge substructure was rated as “good” in 2019, I-55′s substructure was rated as satisfactory - a full step lower than a good rating.

Still, according to the FHA, that rating shows the structure is sound and capable of handling the extra traffic.

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