I-40 Bridge reopening likely delayed until August, TDOT says

Memphis, Tenn. — After months of frustrating travel to and from Memphis, drivers will have to wait a bit longer to use the I-40 bridge.

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation said the I-40 Bridge will likely not reopen until August.

PHOTOS: I-40 Bridge closed after crack discovered

“Contractors are progressing on the phase three repairs. There is now a total of 17 plates. Thirteen of the 17 plates have been at least “rough-set.” The last four plates are arriving today and will be set over the next few days,” TDOT said Friday.

“Aside from the drilling, bolting, and torqueing, installation of these plates is a process that also involves the removal of the lateral bracing, modification of the gusset connection plate, and reinstallation of the lateral bracing. Once the last bolt is torqued on the plate, these items can be completed. This work will likely push us into the first part of August in opening the bridge to traffic. We will have more of a specific schedule next week.”

The I-40 Bridge connecting West Memphis, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee was abruptly shut down on May 11 after a crack was found in the bridge during routine bridge inspection by crews with the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

Questions over the crack in the bridge immediately arose, leading to ARDOT firing an inspector who missing the fracture during previous inspections.

RELATED: Fired I-40 bridge inspector said safety concern kept him from seeing fracture, record shows

People began coming forward with videos and photos of the bridge, showing the beginning of a fracture in the bridge’s structure. ARDOT confirmed that the crack was forming in 2019 and one man claimed to have proof of the break dating as far back as 2016.

RELATED: 2019 Photo appears to show crack in I-40 Bridge then

RELATED: Local man says his pictures show I-40 Bridge damage from 2016

The infrastructure issue brought the governors of Arkansas and Tennessee as well as White House officials to the Mid-South to discuss the problem and brought attention to other local bridges.

At best, transportation officials expected it to take months to reopen the fracture.

RELATED: Study finds 8 percent of Miss. bridges are structurally deficient

RELATED: ‘All I can say is months’: Officials confirm long-term closure of I-40 Bridge

Meanwhile, Mid-South cities dealt with the fallout.

Around 60,000 commuters a day were impacted, leaving frustrated drivers and city officials on both sides of the Mississippi River.

RELATED: West Memphis mayor says his city needs help dealing with fallout from the bridge closure

Debate over adding a third bridge to connect Arkansas and Tennessee resumed, a project that was estimated to cost between $449 million and $642 back in 2006 when TDOT explored the possibility.

FOX13 Investigates: What happened to the plans for a third bridge over the river?

FOX13 is continuing to cover the I-40 Bridge Closure, check back here for future updates on this developing situation.