Memphis – Repairs to 40 interstate bridges linking Arkansas and Tennessee could take months after cracks were found, forcing thousands of trucks and cars to detour and shut down shipping in parts of the Mississippi River. The year, the transportation official said on Wednesday.
Democrats from Tennessee flag the crack as a warning to the urgent need to take action to fix the nation’s infrastructure. U.S. Republican senators also pointed to the need for infrastructure spending while criticizing President Joe Biden’s plans.
Lorie Tudor, director of the Arkansas division, said the Hernando DeSoto six-lane bridge was transported.
CBS Memphis subsidiary WREG-TV received the voice of what it described as a frenzied calling 911 after the crack was discovered.
At first, a man said “We recently made a very important discovery that traffic was required to be shut down in both directions on the I-40 Mississippi River bridge.”
As the dispatcher pressed the man further to investigate what was going on, investigators tried desperately to explain how serious the problem was, saying: “We have an important finding in one member that separates us immediately.”
Auditors are with Michael Baker International, an engineering company hired by the Arkansas Department of Transportation. To check the period
Another woman with Michael Baker put a second call to 911, in which she can be heard talking to others on the bridge as she tries to seek help.
“We spoke to Arkansas because they hired us, we just needed a police car here to get traffic off the bridge,” she said.
Both states’ transportation agencies said they would make sure the 48-year-old 1.8-mile bridge was safe before it could reopen.
“This fracture has a chance to turn into a catastrophic event prevented by the diligent efforts of the authorities to manage our bridge inspection program,” Tudor said.
Traffic was diverted to Interstate 55 and the 71-year-old Memphis and Arkansas Bridge, about three miles south.
River traffic was also shut down in the Memphis area until further notice, the Tennessee Department of Transportation said. The U.S. Coast Guard said 16 tugboat, carrying more than 220 ships, were waiting in line on Wednesday.
At least four tug boats attached to the boat were idle Wednesday near the boat ramps at the park. Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, located 20 miles north of the bridge.
The shutdown created traffic congestion in Memphis and in nearby West Memphis, Arkansas, West Memphis emergency manager DeWayne Rose said officials were using an emergency plan to pick up injured patients. To a service facility in Memphis or to another nearby hospital.
“People in this area are used to lane closures, they are familiar with construction, they are used to shutdowns, and I think everyone has little advantage because of the uncertainty of this time frame,” Rose said.
Road crews are ready to eliminate cars that have crashed or stuck on the I-55 four-lane bridge, the next nearest Mississippi River crossing, about 60 miles to the south, near Lula, Mississippi and 100 miles to the north. Near Dyersburg, Tennessee
Inspectors are working to determine whether the I-40 bridges can hold their own weight and the weight of construction workers, said Paul Degges, chief engineer of the Tennessee Transportation Department. Boat traffic will not resume until engineers decide the bridge can stand on its own, he said.
Identifying these factors can take days and repairs can take much longer, Degges said.
“Of course, it could have been months instead of weeks,” Degges said during the press conference. “We sincerely hope that we can find solutions that will help us take action to open traffic. But now we don’t know “
Engineers are investigating the cause of the crack. The exhaustion of tens of thousands of vehicles running over the bridge every day could be a contributing factor, Degges said.
“Fortunately, regular checks help prevent a potential disaster. But the state of our collapsing infrastructure is extremely troubling, ”said US Democratic Representative Steve Cohen.
Cohen said he would be working with congressional delegations from Arkansas and Tennessee to ensure that improvements to the I-40 bridge were included in Mr Biden’s infrastructure proposal.
Republicans in both states said the shutdown underscored the need for infrastructure spending but not Biden’s $ 2.3 trillion plan, which they argued too much in the definition of jobs. public
“This highlights what I heard from Tennessee last week on the topic of infrastructure: investing in infrastructure, difficult roads and bridges, is the type of investment that taxpayers will see returns and will support.” Said Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty.
Senator John Buzman of Arkansas said he liked the GOP lawmakers’ plan calling for $ 568 billion to spend on infrastructure over five years.
“I think infrastructure is urgently needed. I don’t agree with the president’s plan,” Boozman said.
In reviewing the 2020 National Bridge Inventory Report, the Federal Highway Administration. It said the I-40 bridge was inspected as a whole in fair condition, with all the major structural elements being audible and there were only minor cracks and chips in the overall structure. The structural assessments have been verified. “Rather better than the minimum sufficiency to tolerate being left as is.”
However, the height and width spacing for larger vehicles is “It is basically unbearable that requires high-priority corrective action,” suggested Tennessee State Inspectorate. “Replacement of the bridge deck with only accidental widening”
Arkansas transportation officials said the crack was not present in the most recent bridge inspection that took place in September 2020.
The I-40 bridge, which opened in 1973, had an average of 35,000 trucks per day in 2020, with 29 percent of the trucks, according to Degges, an average of 50,000 vehicles per day, with about a quarter being trucks. The report said traffic will increase to 56,000 vehicles per day by 2040.
“I am not trying to be destructive and sorrow. But this is a very dire situation for the regional economy … it really creates problems for us, ”said Republican Representative Rick Crawford. East Arkansas Bridge End
The range also received an additional $ 280 million worth of installations for the possibility of an earthquake.