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TDOT working on interim repair plan to allow time to build replacement beam for I-40 bridge

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 2:14 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee Department of Transportation said Friday they are still working to determine if the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River is structurally stable, but there is no indication the bridge is continuing to deteriorate.

Three days ago, authorities shut down bridge and river traffic when inspectors discovered a significant fracture in a steal beam beneath the bridge’s truss. Earlier Friday, the Arkansas Department of Transportation said 2019 video showed damage in the fracture area and they are investigating whether it was noted in that year’s inspection.

In an update from TDOT Friday afternoon, the department said resuming barge traffic was the No. 1 priority, which happened Friday morning. Next is opening the bridge to vehicular traffic and looking at what long-term issues could be related to the fractured beam.

“We went through an extensive bridge modeling program to be sure it was safe for river traffic,” reads a TDOT news release.” “We are performing additional modeling with different analytical tools to ensure quality control to have a redundant analysis before we make a final determination that the bridge is structurally stable.”

TDOT says their design team is investigating whether installing a steel plate would beef up the fractured section and improve safety.

The design team is also working on an interim repair plan using steel rods attached to the bridge and spanning across the fractured section that could allow vehicular traffic to resume.

TDOT says the interim repair would allow time for a new bridge component to be built to replace the damaged 37-foot-long section.

ArDOT is monitoring the damaged area for any additional fractures.

The Federal Highway Administration wants the damaged section of steel preserved for a forensic investigation.

TDOT is working with the University of Memphis to see if any information can be gained from their research activities on the bridge that may have captured information regarding the fracture.

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