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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Arkansas and Tennessee crews are working to repair the "crack" in the I-40 Hernando de Soto bridge

Friday, the Coast Guard said barges and boats are once again on the move.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — 5/14/2021 - (TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION NEWS RELEASE) - The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) are working together to safely repair and reopen the I-40 Bridge over the Mississippi River as soon as possible. After three days of intense and thorough analysis, we have the following information to share.

  • The Department met with our Structural Team, which included TDOT, ARDOT, FHWA, TDOT’s consultant Michael Baker, Inc. (MBI), and ARDOT’s consultant HNTB to go over the details of the bridge modeling.
  • There was a consistent message that, above all, the safety of the public was paramount, and the priority was to 1) open the bridge to river traffic 2) open the bridge to vehicular traffic 3) look at the bridge for long-term issues related to the original failure.
  • There is no indication that the bridge is continuing to deteriorate. We went through an extensive bridge modeling program to be sure it was safe for river traffic.
  • We are performing additional modeling with different analytical tools to ensure quality control to have a redundant analysis before we make a final determination that the bridge is structurally stable.
  • The US Coast Guard made the decision to reopen the Mississippi River to traffic at 9:00 AM CDT this morning.
  • The design team is investigating the benefits of installing a steel plate to beef up the fractured section and thus increase our factor of safety for the existing configuration.
  • The design team is working on an interim repair design concept that contemplates using steel rods that would be attached to the bridge and span over the fractured section, and provide the needed strength to reopen the bridge to vehicular traffic.
  • The interim repair would allow time for a new bridge component to be fabricated to replace the bridge's damaged 37’ long section.
  • ARDOT is continuing to monitor the fracture area to ensure that no additional fractures are propagating from the existing section.
  • FHWA has requested that the section of damaged steel be preserved so that a detailed forensic investigation of the plates could be done later.
  • TDOT is working with the University of Memphis to see what could be gained from some of their research activities on the bridge that might have captured some information regarding the fracture.

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(ARDOT NEWS RELEASE) - The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) has confirmed that an image captured by an inspector’s drone video shows evidence of damage in the same area of the fracture which caused the Interstate 40 Bridge to be shut down earlier this week, according to agency officials.

In May 2019, a video shows the evidence of the damage on the lower side of the bridge. ARDOT is now investigating to see if that damage was noted in a September 2019 inspection report and, if so, what actions were taken.

A new webpage dedicated to this closure of the I-40 Mississippi River Bridge is available. You can also stay current on this issue by following @myARDOT on Twitter and explore using the hashtag #40MSRiverBridge. Find additional information at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov.

RELATED: Yes, there was damage to the I-40 Hernando de Soto bridge at the time of 2019 inspection

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(COAST GUARD NEWS RELEASE) - The Coast Guard lifted the waterway restriction from mile marker 736 to mile marker 737 on the Mississippi River, Friday, in the vicinity of the I-40 bridge in Memphis, Tennessee. 

The waterway is now open without restriction to all vessel traffic. As of Friday, there were 62 vessels and 1,058 barges in queue. 

"Based on information provided to us by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Coast Guard has determined that transit under the I-40 bridge is safe for maritime traffic," said Coast Guard Capt. Ryan Rhodes, Captain of the Port of Memphis. "We appreciate the cooperative efforts of both the Tennessee and Arkansas Departments of Transportation, as well as maritime port partners, to ensure the safety of our waterway."

More information on this story can be found here. For more information follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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5/13/2021 - The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) are working together to safely repair and reopen the Interstate 40 Bridge over the Mississippi River, according to agency officials.

Today the two transportation agencies have accomplished the following:

  • Generated a computer model of the bridge and adjusted it to include the damages and current conditions. Now that the model closely matches the real situation it will be used to test future repairs.
  • Discussed the current situation and risk factor of reopening the river to barge traffic with the Coast Guard so that they could evaluate and decide if it is safe to resume operations in that waterway.
  • Agreed that the first step is to complete temporary repairs designed to guarantee the safety of personnel and equipment required to be on the structure while putting the long term repairs into place.

A new webpage, dedicated to this closure of the I-40 Mississippi River Bridge, is available and we have attached two new photos. You can also stay current on this issue by following @myARDOT on Twitter and explore using the hashtag #40MSRiverBridge. Find additional information at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov.

Credit: Arkansas Department of Transportation