Cracking shuts down I-40 Mississippi River Bridge between Tennessee and Arkansas

May 12, 2021

Contractor uncovered a crack in the bottom side of the bridge truss during a routine inspection

A routine bridge inspection of the I-40 Hernando de Soto Bridge over the Mississippi River revealed a crack that requires further investigation, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) officials.

Contract crews will begin emergency repairs on the I-40 Mississippi River Bridge, which will be closed to all traffic until further notice while crews investigate the crack's extent further and then repair the problem, which could take some time. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) shares responsibility for the bridge with ARDOT. 

TDOT said an ARDOT contractor uncovered a crack in the bottom side of the bridge truss during the inspection and immediately shut down the bridge. Detours are in place in Tennessee and Arkansas. Traffic is being rerouted in both directions to I-55 as an alternate route across the river. River traffic is also shut down until further notice.

The 9,432-ft-long Hernando de Soto Bridge is a through arch bridge carrying I-40 across the Mississippi River between West Memphis, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. According to a report from Jalopnik, over 37,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day.


TDOT and ARDOT on Friday, May 14, said the two agencies are working together to safely repair and reopen the I-40 Bridge over the Mississippi River as soon as possible. The Structural Team includes TDOT, ARDOT, FHWA, TDOT’s consultant Michael Baker Inc. (MBI), and ARDOT’s consultant HNTB to go over the details of the bridge modeling.

The agencies said there is no indication that the bridge is continuing to deteriorate. The agencies said they went through an extensive bridge modeling program to be sure it was safe for river traffic. They are performing additional modeling with different analytical tools to ensure quality control to have a redundant analysis before making a final determination that the bridge is structurally stable.

The agencies said the design team is investigating the benefits of installing a steel plate to beef up the fractured section and thus increase the factor of safety for the existing configuration. The design team is also 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.


SOURCE: Tennessee DOT / Arkansas DOT / Jalopnik

IMAGE: Trevor Birchett via Wikimedia Commons

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