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Memphis business owner feeling strain of I-40 bridge closure

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 9:36 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Several links in the transportation chain are feeling the strain of the I-40 bridge closure.

Neely Mallory is in the international shipping business and operates one of seven distribution centers in Memphis.

Goods come from all over the world by train to be picked up at the Union Pacific Railroad Intermodal terminal on the other side of the I-55 bridge in Marion County.

“And it works, but it takes much longer,” said Mallory. “It takes four hours or longer to get over there to pick up your goods or drop it off.”

Mallory says drivers used to be able to make up to four runs a day across the bridge. Now it’s one to two runs. With tens of thousands of additional vehicles on one bridge, travel can be a nightmare.

Tuesday, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) officials pushed back the date to reveal a timeline for when the I-40 bridge could possibly reopen.

“This is another hurdle we’re going to have to overcome with this question mark for how long this is going to be hanging out there. So, in the interim, we may lose a distribution center to another state. I think having a game plan on what a realistic timeline is will help that,” said Mallory.

Mallory says Memphis is in constant competition with other cities like Kansas City, Dallas, and Chicago.

Mallory has been committed to Memphis since the turn of the century, but potential new distribution centers may choose another location if the I-40 bridge is out of commission for much longer.

“With the volume of business that goes across here, not just internationally but domestically as well, crossing that bridge, it’s not sustainable and that’s a long term threat for Memphis because we are America’s distribution center,” said Mallory.

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