LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas legislators met to discuss the recent events surrounding the Interstate 40 bridge into Tennessee.
During the Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee meeting, ARDOT officials were in the hot seat facing state legislators following the discovery of a fracture in the I-40 bridge that went unnoticed for two years.
“We understand confidence in our inspections is low right now,” ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor said.
Tudor and ARDOT Deputy Director Rex Vines answered questions from lawmakers centering around the former employee in charge of inspecting the bridge each year. They asked how he missed the fracture.
Vines said the employee was in charge of lowering himself to the beam and moving to each side to look at every piece, but that’s not what happened.
“He was dropping to that point and then looking left and right but he was not extending beyond the point of his drop down,” Vines said.
This caused him to miss the fracture and it only got bigger with time. The next question from legislators was why there is only one person in charge of the inspection and not another set of eyes.
“That’s part of our flaw in our process that we’re going to fix that we have that redundancy those checks and balances,” Tudor said.
Tudor said they have now purchased a drone and are bringing in the Federal Highway Administration to review their practices. Even still, lawmakers said this puts all other inspections into question.
ARDOT is looking to see if any other employees were negligent in missing the fracture, but only the one employee has been fired.
All inspections by the former employee who missed the fracture are now being redone.
Also, ARDOT has asked TDOT to do an inspection on the I-55 bridge using their drone.