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TDOT gives tour of I-40 Bridge; reopening in sight

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 6:25 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For the first time since the I-40 bridge closed to all forms of traffic, the Tennessee Department of Transportation gave a tour of the bridge to media to see the progress that’s been made in repair efforts.

“Right now, we’ve got about 1.2 million pounds of tension being relieved off of the fractured member,” said TDOT Operations Engineer, Brandon Akins. “We were able to cut the actual fractured member out, and we’re now moving onto the second component of Phase 2.”

The second component of Phase 2 involved placing eight steel plates along the area where the fractured member once was.

According to Akins, four of the plates had already been installed by the time of our tour on Monday morning and that the final plate would have been installed by that evening.

“It’s a pretty complicated process,” Akins said. “There’s over four-thousand bolts to be put in place. It is a very slow process to drill those bolts and get those installed, but we are working twenty-four hours a day to get that installed as quickly as possible.”

After the plates are set in place, there will still need to be some time to review the repairs.

Akins said those 4,000 bolts, as well as 1,200 linear feet of welds, will have to be inspected to make sure the work was done right.

“That report, preliminary, is due this week, so we’ll be reviewing that and opening up as quick as possible,” he said

Before the tour, the most up-to-date reopening schedule was set around late July-early August.

Akins wasn’t able to update that timeline but said once the report is reviewed a more exact reopening date can be scheduled.

At the same time, Akins was happy to update traffic statistics on the smaller I-55 bridge, which took on the excess traffic with the I-40 bridge being closed.

The I-55 southbound lane off the bridge was recently re-striped and expanded to divert traffic to different areas, and Akins said after monitoring the data over the last couple of weeks, he’s seen positive results.

“We are showing a 77% decrease in the traffic delays on I-55. That’s a great shoutout to the efforts of the stakeholders involved.”

For commercial traffic, Akins referred to a recent Arkansas Trucking Association report that there has been a downward trend in added logistics costs to get commercial vehicles across the Mississippi River from $2.4 million to just over $900,000.

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