Memphis Bridge To Be Repaired From Above

The fractured Memphis, Tenn., bridge carrying Interstate 40 over the Mississippi River could be repaired without placing equipment in the river, avoiding possible river closures, transportation officials believe.

Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi notified the River Industry Executive Task Force (RIETF) that, at present, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) believes all repair work can be accomplished from on top of the Hernando de Soto Bridge, RIETF co-chair Rich Kreider said in a message passed on by the American Waterways Operators.

A bridge inspector discovered a major crack in a structural support beam May 11, causing the bridge to be immediately closed to both river and vehicular traffic. The Coast Guard allowed river traffic to resume three days later. Vehicular traffic remains diverted to I-55. Repairs are expected to take months. The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT), which co-owns and shares responsibility for the bridge with TDOT, said it had fired a bridge inspector who failed to notice or report the fracture during two years’ inspections, saying he did not use proper protocols.

Repairs will consist of installing temporary plating, removing lower lateral bracing, installing post-tension weldments and post-tension bars, removing temporary plating, installing permanent strengthening repair plates, reinstalling lower lateral bracing and removing the post-tension assembly, according to a detailed animation released by TDOT June 5 and posted to the TDOT news YouTube page.

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Repairs are expected to take place throughout July and possibly through August and must be completed before vehicular traffic is able to resume on the bridge, TDOT and ARDOT have said.