West Memphis business owners hope bridge’s reopening will bring customers back

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — West Memphis business owners are thrilled the I-40 bridge will partially re-open on Monday.

Inspectors shut the bridge down on May 11 after they found a critical break in one of the beams.

RELATED: I-40 Bridge set to fully reopen next week, TDOT confirms

This change made it difficult for business owners and customers who use the bridge every day.

Dr. Brian Rhoads is a dentist in West Memphis. He said the bridge closure impacted his scheduling because many of his customers from Memphis were stuck in traffic for hours and were late to their appointments.

“When people can’t get here, and then you feel obligated to see that person when they show up late because they made an effort to get here,” said Dr. Rhoads.

He said luckily, he didn’t lose any revenue. Instead, he adjusted his schedule to stay open later for patients who were stuck in traffic.

Other businesses were not as lucky.

Mayor Marco McClendon talked to several business owners who were impacted.

“We really depend on Memphis and the Mid-South area to come in and support local entertainment, Southland, as well as shopping at Chick-fil-A, Walmart, or Kroger stores,” said McClendon.

On Monday, the bridge will open its eastbound lanes. Four days later, on Friday, the westbound lanes will open.

RELATED: Investigations into what led to I-40 Bridge fracture and how it was overlooked continue

Dr. Rhoads said he is relieved the bridge will reopen soon but said there is a silver lining in all this mess.

“It’s shown we are a strong community. We have a lot of great businesses and doctors on this side of the bridge,” said Dr. Rhoads.

“Let’s remember we are a strong community, and we have great local businesses and economy here as well.”

Mayor McClendon said the reopening will also be a huge relief to emergency workers.

He said they will be able to navigate through traffic faster to get to hospitals in the  Memphis area.