I-40 Bridge detours causing traffic problems in West Memphis

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — It’s been one month since engineers shut down the I-40 bridge between Memphis and Arkansas.

ARDOT and TDOT said it will likely be late July or early August before the bridge reopens. In the meantime, traffic continues to be a problem in West Memphis, Arkansas.

Officials hope by eliminating some of the entrance and exit points on I-55, traffic will run smoother on the bridge and in the city.

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”Here in West Memphis, there has been a lot of chaos,” resident Joseph Tucker said.

Getting around the city has become a chore for residents like Tucker. Since the I-40 bridge shut down, he’s watched his city streets grow congested.

“I’ve seen big trucks go through neighborhoods, and they are tearing up our streets, so we’re asking for help,” he said.

Spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Transportation Dave Parker understands the frustration. That’s why he said the department, along with the city, is working on new ways to improve the flow of traffic on the I-55 bridge.

”The intent was to minimize the amount of exit and on-ramps because what we were finding was those places were creating choke points along the interstate,” Parker said.

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Some of the changes include reducing I-55 southbound to one lane before the I-40 interchange. Parker said I-40 going east was already down to one lane, but the exit ramps on 7th and Ingram are now closed to traffic.

“If we can create a dedicated path for I-40 and I-55, that would maybe lead to a continuous stream of traffic,” he said. “You may not be moving at 50 or 60 miles per hour, but at least you’ll be moving.”

The traffic changes went into effect Thursday. Parker said it will take a couple of days to determine if they’re improving the flow.

Meanwhile, West Memphis residents like Tucker are being patient.

”If you’re trying to get to work, all I can tell you is to be patient,” he said. “Don’t rush. We’re having more accidents, so take your time.”

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When it comes to the bridge repair, Parker with ARDOT said Phase 2 is running smoothly. He said all the materials to make the permanent repair have arrived on time.