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

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Traffic problems on I-55 are going to be a major problem because the I-40 Bridge is shut down.

The mayor of West Memphis said his city needs help dealing with the fallout of the bridge closure.

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Mayor Marco McClendon met with ArDOT to talk about how to relieve some of the headaches for drivers until repairs are complete on the Hernando de Soto Bridge.

Tens of thousands of people travel between Memphis and West Memphis every day.

McClendon said addressing the traffic problem is a short-term fix, but looking at infrastructure is a long-term solution.

He said that’s why it’s important to look into building a third bridge.

“This bridge in West Memphis connected to Memphis, there’s definitely evidence up there.  It’s been talked about for years for a third bridge. I think really that needs to be talked about more.”

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McClendon said more than 60,000 vehicles travel through West Memphis every day.

McClendon urged state leaders to pour more money into infrastructure. The concentration of traffic increased once drivers who would normally take I-40 to Memphis were diverted to I-55.

McClendon fears that I-55 will be in bad shape if action isn’t taken soon.

“A little over a couple of years ago they had been talking about extending the right of way until 55. Just imagine if they would have done that process, which would have knocked the 55 bridge to only one lane and then this happened on the bridge. Could you imagine the traffic then,” McClendon stated.

McClendon focused his efforts on rerouting some of the city streets and placing ATVs in some areas to help emergency crews. Those ATVs make it easier to get through traffic.

“ATV’s are like the 4 wheelers; there’s some designed for EMS to have a stretcher on the back”

McClendon spoke with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. 

Hutchinson provided this statement to FOX13: “I spoke with Mayor McClendon about the impact of the I-40 bridge closure on the West Memphis community.  We discussed the economic impact and the impact on public safety from the resulting traffic congestion.”

McClendon met with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland Thursday to talk about the economic impact.

One example of the impact: McClendon said business is down 15 to 20 percent at Southland Casino.