The Arkansas Department of Transportation has confirmed there was evidence of damage on the I-40 bridge in 2019.
David Manasco shared a photo on Twitter showing what appeared to be the damage in 2019 which led FOX13 to press for answers about when the damage first appeared.
See the full release below:
“The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) has confirmed that an image captured by an inspector’s drone video shows evidence of damage in the same area of the fracture which caused the Interstate 40 Bridge to be shut down earlier this week, according to agency officials.
In May 2019, a video shows the evidence of the damage on the lower side of the bridge. ARDOT is now investigating to see if that damage was noted in a September 2019 inspection report and, if so, what actions were taken.
A new webpage dedicated to this closure of the I-40 Mississippi River Bridge is available. You can also stay current on this issue by following @myARDOT on Twitter and explore using the hashtag #40MSRiverBridge. Find additional information at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov.”
ARDOT has scheduled a news conference for Monday afternoon with another update.
ORIGINAL REPORT THAT FOX13 BROUGHT TO YOU FIRST
When did the damage occur on the I-40 bridge? It may never be clear exactly when it happened, but one Twitter user took to social media to say it dates back at least to July 2019.
Pictures posted on Twitter show an image of the bridge with what appears to show the damage circled in red.
David Manasco is the user behind the Twitter post.
He tagged TDOT and ARDOT with the caption: “Well the I-40 crack started well before the 2019 inspection. Here is a shot I took in July 2019. You can see the crack was quite extensive at that point. Curious why this wasn’t caught in Aug 2019 inspection.”
FOX13 reached out to Manasco and he sent us the original, full-resolution file.
The metadata from the original file said the picture was taken in July 2019.
“When people are asking when did it start, we can use photos that were taken and see when it started potentially,” said Manasco.
Manasco said he snapped this picture on a riverboat tour in July of 2019.
In the photo, you can see a close-up of something that appears to be in the same spot on the Hernando-Desoto bridge as the fracture.
“I have the raw files. I’ve got 6 or 7 different angles. I can show them; it’s not been doctored or altered. I brightened it up so I can visibly see it. I have more than one photo so it’s not like I went into photo and draw a little line.”
ARDOT spokesperson Dave Parker said he is aware of the picture but doesn’t know who took it, where it came from or if it’s altered.
He said engineers believe the crack appeared suddenly and didn’t take years to form.
“From what we’ve seen in the last 48 hours, looking at everything, it does not appear to be a slow-developing crack months and months and months, years and years, it seems to be something that happened quickly,” said Parker.
Parker believes this is why crews didn’t discover the crack in the bridge earlier.
He said ARDOT and the consulting firm checked the bridge in 2019.
In 2020, ARDOT inspected it.
Then this year the engineering firm Michael Backer International discovered the crack.
“No one know if that fracture appeared two days after the inspection was concluded or in the last three weeks,” said Parker.
FOX13 went through dozens of videos of drone footage from previous years to see if there was a clear shot that showed the area where the fracture occurred.
In a video recorded in 2017, there was no apparent fracture. We also uncovered a photo from 2016 that showed the same thing.
FOX13 reported that a recent 2018 inspection rated the bridge as fair with no evidence of any trouble on the beams which support the bridge.
The bridge was also inspected in 2020.
Highway officials in Arkansas and Tennessee said they don’t know for sure what caused the damage in the I-40 Bridge.
The bridge has been closed since Tuesday afternoon after ARDOT consultants found a crack in the beam.
In audio from the 911 call, the consultant could be heard telling the operator that they needed to get everyone off the bridge.
Cox Media Group