MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Without the use of the I-40 bridge and an even busier I-55 bridge, businesses who use these for transportation are in a jam. An additional bridge over the Mississippi River is now gaining national attention because of it.
The Greater Memphis Chamber has been speaking with businesses throughout the Mid-South for more than a decade about how an additional bridge would help commerce. Bobby White, the chief public policy officer for the Greater Memphis Chamber, said the initial plans came to a halt because of finances for environmental studies.
"Now actually regulations and rules have changed," White said. "You no longer have to do that. You can actually get down to a planning process and get to build out sites."
No specific locations have been chosen yet, but there's a number of options since this stretch of the Mississippi River is one of its narrowest. White said the need for a third bridge is growing, especially right now.
"Now the political wheel is there because people are seeing how the shut down of just one bridge temporarily is impacting businesses, impacting commerce," White said.
It also has the attention of US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who will be visiting the Hernando DeSoto Bridge Thursday. White hopes Buttigieg's visit will bring a major infrastructure investment for the Mid-South.
"That he’s able to hear from us, hear from business leaders about a new bridge that needs to be built and an investment that needs to be made," White said.
White said we need to think about a third bridge proactively to hopefully avoid another situation like we're in now with the I-40 bridge.
"This is not a one or two or three or four or five year process," White said. "It’s a long process so it will take us a while to get there, but it’s important enough for us to start now."