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Drivers report tire blowouts after hitting pothole on I-55 bridge

Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:40 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:44 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As we all know by now, with the I-40 bridge still out of commission, the only route over the Mississippi River in Memphis is the I-55 bridge.

Yesterday, several reports from drivers came into the WMC newsroom that a pothole on the right northbound lane was causing tire blowouts.

Normally a single pothole wouldn’t be a topic of discussion, but in the case of the I-55 bridge, that makes it a different story.

TDOT Drive Times Over I-55 Bridge (as of 6/20/2021)
TDOT Drive Times Over I-55 Bridge (as of 6/20/2021)(TDOT)

Updated drive times from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (dated 6/20/2021), show drive times over the I-55 bridge are thirty minutes extra during rush hours, forty five minutes in a few time slots. (see above graphic)

With a pothole that is causing blowouts, that adds a temporary chink in the armor of the bridge’s traffic situation.

“All of a sudden, I hit this pothole that just... I’ve never hit a pothole like that,” said Jennifer Sayle.

Sayle is one driver who had to pull over, due to a flat tire, on Sunday after hitting the pothole.

“I had to ride it on down until I had a place where I could pull over safely, and then that’s when I noticed other cars were pulled over, even the parking lot I chose to pull into,” she said.

We personally drove over the bridge looking for the pothole but didn’t see anything that would cause several cars to pull over.

Sayle showed us pictures of her tire from Sunday and assured us that the pothole was there.

Damaged Tire/Rim
Damaged Tire/Rim(Jennifer Sayle)

“There was no way to avoid it. I mean, you can’t dodge it because it’s so narrow,” Sayle said.

When we spoke with Sayle, she was actually on her way to pick up her car from the dealership, having the tire and rim replaced.

Sayle claims the pothole came on the Arkansas side of the bridge, but because the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) is only responsible for the inspections on the bridge, they referred up to TDOT.

A TDOT spokesperson told us they’ve not received any call or complaints, but that doesn’t mean something hasn’t happened.

They’re having someone look into it.

Meanwhile, TDOT posted today on social media that they have begun removing the fractured support beam on the I-40 bridge.

After that, they’ll be able to install the permanent plates that will replace it.

Those plates have reportedly started to arrive on site.

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