ARDOT: Fired inspector oversaw inspections of 9 heavily-traveled bridges in past year

Crack in bridge
Crack in bridge((Source: TDOT))
Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 1:18 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (WMC) - An Arkansas bridge inspector who was fired after the discovery of a fractured beam in the I-40 bridge was the lead inspector of nine heavily-traveled bridges across the state in the past year.

A spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Transportation says the bridges are considered “fracture critical bridges,” meaning an element of the structure, if it failed, would cause a partial or total bridge collapse. It does not mean the bridges have fractures. They are typically large or heavily-traveled bridges.

The spokesperson says all nine bridges are currently being re-inspected. This includes the I-40 bridge and the Highway 49 bridge in Helena-West Helena.

ARDOT has not named the inspector but said they missed the fracture during a 2019 inspection of the Hernando DeSoto bridge. They confirmed drone video filmed prior to the September 2019 video showed the crack.

Other images dating back to 2016 have since surfaced, showing damage in the area of the fracture.

The bridge closed to traffic May 11 after the fracture was discovered during a new inspection. Barge traffic resumed Monday, but it’s unclear when vehicular traffic will resume.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation said it could take months to complete repairs.

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