LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Transportation officials in Arkansas say they had numerous meetings Thursday regarding the status of the closure of the Interstate 40 bridge crossing the Mississippi River into Memphis.
During the meetings, staff with the Arkansas Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Transportation were able to use a computer-generated model of the bridge to map out the damage and the current conditions in the area. This will help the model be used in planning the future repairs.
Both agencies agreed that temporary repairs needed to be made immediately in order to make more long-term repair operations safer for work crews.
Officials with TDOT, which is responsible for fixing the bridge, said Wednesday that it is plausible that it could take months to reopen the bridge. It’s important to note that comment was made before a nationally known engineering team responded to assess it.
A spokesperson with the Arkansas Department of Transportation said that the agency had crews on the bridge Wednesday looking at it to figure out what’s next.
Once the crews do that, they’ll have to decide what repairs to make to get the bridge open to not only vehicular traffic but barges.
As part of the Thursday meetings, the agencies discussed the risk factors to reopening the river to barge traffic with officials from the US Coast Guard so they could help evaluate the situation in order to determine when waterway operations could resume.
ARDOT has also started a dedicated web page for updates on the repairs on the ARDOT.gov website.
This is the longest time that the I-40 bridge connecting Arkansas to Tennessee has been closed in its history.