I-40 bridge shutdown could affect prices of goods, services shipped along Mississippi River

MID-SOUTH — Drivers aren’t the only ones impacted by the indefinite shut down of the I-40 bridge.

The I-40 bridge shutdown is affecting barges and other water traffic along the Mississippi River.

Barges and vessels near the bridge are stopped until the United States Coast Guard, Arkansas Department of Transportation, and Tennessee Department of Transportation open that segment of the Mississippi River saying it’s safe for maritime traffic to travel under the bridge.

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This could affect consumers because many goods and services are transported along the waterway.

The U.S. Coast Guard set a waterway restriction on a portion of the lower Mississippi River after a crack was discovered on the bridge.

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Officials told FOX13 at least 16 vessels and a total of 229 barges are now parked up and down the river.

Vessel traffic near the bridge was stopped near mile markers 736 and 737 until further notice.

The Coast Guard is working with the Arkansas Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The shutdown along the river could mean longer wait times for deliveries or some items going out-of-stock in stores.

Industry experts said the longer the bridge is shut down, the more consumers could pay for goods and services.

FOX13 talked to Captain William Lozier who owns Memphis Riverboats. His business is still up and running for dinner cruises, tours, and other events. It’s not just about giving people an opportunity to ride along the river. It’s about teaching them the history behind Memphis and riverboats.

Captain Lozier grew up on the water. He’s a third-generation captain who’s never seen anything like the closure of the I-40 bridge.  

“I’ve never heard of anything like this before... it be shut down like this before. That’s the first time I’ve seen that bridge silent this long,” said Captain Lozier.

Captain Lozier’s Memphis Queen is docked in the Downtown Harbor. He’s got a unique view of the bridge that is now shut down.

Memphis is the fifth largest inland port in the United States. Right now because river traffic is shut down it leaves barges and tugboats at a standstill. It’s not clear how long the stoppage will last.   

“It’s going to have a negative impact on the industry because you have all these boats that are tied up. All your bulk commodities run up and down the Mississippi River. Everything from petroleum to corn to soybeans. Everything. This is the interstate that moves everything,” said Captain Lozier.