Memphis, Tenn. — Good news for Mid-South drivers: The I-40 bridge will start to reopen in a matter of days.
Less than three months after inspectors found a fractured beam and closed the Hernando de Soto Bridge, traffic will start rolling on it again next week.
The reopening will be done in stages. TDOT and ARDOT announced on Wednesday the eastbound lanes will open Monday, Aug. 2. The westbound lanes will open four days later on Friday, Aug. 6.
Crews are currently performing load testing on the bridge and are adding the finishing touches.
“I’m actually very excited about the bridge reopening. It’s cost me extra time getting to work and home,” said Rocky Angeletti, who commutes from Arkansas to Memphis for work.
“I live in Arkansas, and it normally it takes me about 10 to 12 minutes to get downtown, and right now, it’s roughly taking me about 30 minutes to an hour.”
Inspectors shut the bridge down on May 11 after they found a critical break in one of the beams.
Since then, crews have worked in three different phases to make the necessary repairs.
“Over the weekend, we’re going to be demobilizing, making sure everything is cleaned up off the eastbound side, removing the work platforms, and once that’s done, we’ll be able to open those east-bound lanes,” Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nichole Lawrence said.
Crews will do the same work next week on the westbound side.
Lawrence said the bridge remains an active work zone, and there will be a reduced speed limit when it reopens. She urges drivers to be careful.
“We just need to make sure they’re paying attention to all the message boards and really paying attention as they’re driving across,” Lawrence said.
State leaders and even representatives from the White House came down to the Memphis area to oversee the construction, while local leaders weighed in on driver’s frustration and the economic impact the closure created.
Pictures began to surface of a crack in the structure over the years, some dating as far back as 2016, leading to questions and the eventual termination of an ArDOT inspector who allegedly failed to see the break during inspections in 2019 and 2020.
Old debates over the possible construction of a third bridge connecting Arkansas and Tennessee resurrected, a project estimated to cost between $449 and $642 million in 2006.
Questions over the construction of a third bridge will likely continue for some time, but drivers at least now have an answer to perhaps their most pressing traffic concern.
The I-40 Bridge will fully reopen on August 6.
Important to note, however, is that TDOT did say any complications could set the reopening date back. Another update on the reopening process will be provided by TDOT on Friday, July 30.
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