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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to visit Memphis & the I-40 Hernando de Soto bridge next week

TDOT said Thursday it hopes to have a schedule next week for when the bridge can reopen.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — UPDATE 5/28/2021 - Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will head to Memphis next week to visit the I-40 Hernando de Soto bridge.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Buttigieg would be in Memphis Thursday, June 3, 2021.

Additional details on the visit have not yet been released.

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5/27/2021 - (TDOT NEWS RELEASE) - The department has been working diligently with the contractor on the phase 2 design, developing two repair concepts.

  • The first concept requires removing the entire fractured steel box member (tie girder) and replacing it with new components.
  • The second concept adds additional steel plating adjacent to the damaged area, bypassing the fractured components, removing a smaller section of the fractured piece, and leaving the bulk of the box section in place.

The availability of steel materials and fabrication times for the components required have a bearing on the bridge's opening date. With that in mind, TDOT and ARDOT agreed to proceed with the second strategy using the plating concept. This design will require less fabrication time and offers the advantage of getting the bridge open to traffic two to three weeks sooner than replacing the damaged steel box assembly in its entirety. The final design drawings are being completed, and the contractor is sourcing the steel components for the repairs. We intend to have a schedule for the bridge opening next week.

All interstate traffic in the Memphis area is being diverted to I-55. In anticipation of increased holiday traffic, we are installing an additional camera dedicated to monitoring the Crump interchange, and additional message boards are being set up to assist northbound traffic. We are averaging around 67,000 vehicles per day on the I-55 bridge. This volume is generated from a radar station located just off the east side of the bridge.

TDOT HELP trucks are stationed on both sides of the I-55 bridge to respond quickly to any incidents and keep lanes open. Below are direct links to the TDOT SmartWay cameras posted at the east and west approaches of I-55 for live traffic information.

West Approach to I-55 River Crossing

East Approach to the I-55 River Crossing

Inspectors continue to review hours of drone video and numerous pictures of the I-55 bridge. So far, there is nothing of concern. We will release the final report when available. 

We continue to hold daily meetings with ARDOT, our consultants, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Memphis Police Department, and FHWA to develop and expedite the repair project while managing traffic along the alternate routes.

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5/26/2021 - (TDOT NEWS RELEASE)  - Kiewit Infrastructure Group continues preparing the bridge for phase two work. They are extending the work platform and finalizing design plans. The contractor’s input provides important construct-ability details. In addition, the contractor is working with steel fabricators to determine steel plating availability to provide an expedited fabrication of the phase two components. ArDOT will be resuming bridge inspection activities on the I-40 bridge starting June 1st.

All interstate traffic in the Memphis area is being diverted to I-55. Indications are the restriping project to improve traffic flow at the Crump Interchange is working. In anticipation of increased holiday traffic, we are also installing an additional camera dedicated to monitoring the interchange, and additional message boards are being set up to assist northbound traffic. We are averaging around 67,000 vehicles per day on the I-55 bridge. This volume is generated from a radar station located just off the east side of the bridge.

TDOT HELP trucks are stationed on both sides of the I-55 bridge to respond quickly to any incidents and keep lanes open. Below are direct links to the TDOT SmartWay cameras posted at the east and west approaches of I-55 for live traffic information.

West Approach to I-55 River Crossing

East Approach to the I-55 River Crossing

Inspectors continue to review the drone footage of the I-55 bridge. So far, there is nothing of concern. A final report could tentatively be available by the end of the week.

We continue to hold daily meetings with ARDOT, our consultants, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Memphis Police Department, and FHWA to develop and expedite the repair project while managing traffic along the alternate routes.

We have a webpage dedicated to the bridge repair. For the daily updates and press releases, click on Library from your menu options: https://www.tn.gov/tdot/projects/region-4/i-40-hernando-desoto-bridge.html. Also, please follow us on social media for the latest.

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5/25/2021 - (TDOT NEWS RELEASE) - Phase one is complete! Kiewit Infrastructure Group worked 24-hour shifts installing fabricated steel plates on each side of the fractured member to secure the bridge for permanent repairs. Now they will be preparing for phase two, which includes cleaning up the worksite and extending the platform. Phase two design plans, consisting of removing and replacing the damaged piece, are being finalized. Both phases will need to be completed before traffic can re-open on the bridge.

All interstate traffic in the Memphis area is being diverted to I-55. Indications are the restriping project to improve traffic flow at the I-55 and Crump Interchange is working.

Traffic data comparing Monday, May 17 and Monday, May 24, shows a 40% reduction in travel time on I-55. A 47-minute delay was reduced to 27 minutes.

Ramps around the Crump Interchange will remain closed during bridge repairs to help traffic flow on I-55 by not competing with merging ramp traffic. I-55 at Crump Interchange Lane Closures

TDOT HELP trucks are stationed on both sides of the I-55 bridge to respond quickly to any incidents and keep lanes open. Additionally, we are utilizing message boards across Shelby County to assist with messaging. Below are direct links to the TDOT SmartWay cameras posted at the east and west approaches of I-55 for live traffic information.

West Approach to I-55 River Crossing

East Approach to the I-55 River Crossing

Inspectors continue to review the drone footage of the I-55 bridge. So far, there is nothing of concern. A final report could tentatively be available by the end of the week.

We continue to hold daily meetings with ARDOT, our consultants, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Memphis Police Department, and FHWA to develop and expedite the repair project while managing traffic along the alternate routes.

We have a webpage dedicated to the bridge repair. For the daily updates and press releases, click on Library from your menu options: https://www.tn.gov/tdot/projects/region-4/i-40-hernando-desoto-bridge.html. Also, please follow us on social media for the latest. 

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5/24/2021 - The Tennessee Department of Transportation said the work is progressing nicely on the I-40 Hernando de Soto bridge to repair a fracture in a steel beam.

Steel plates are being installed on each side of the cracked beam.

Kiewit infrastructure group, the contractor for the repairs, will work in 24-hour shifts for complete phase one.

Phase two involves removing and replacing the beam, which leaders said needs to happen before traffic will reopen.