Transportation officials on Friday sped up their plans to reopen the Hernando Desoto bridge linking Arkansas and Tennessee that was closed after a crack was discovered in the span. The I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River was shut down May 11 after inspectors found a crack in one of two 900-foot horizontal steel beams critical for the bridge’s structural integrity, forcing thousands of trucks and cars to detour to the nearby Interstate 55 bridge during the bridge’s repairs.
The Eastbound lanes of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge over the Mississippi River reopened to limited traffic on Saturday night, moving up their original plan to partially reopen the bridge on Monday morning. The department said it still planned to reopen the bridge’s westbound lanes on Aug. 6, though it said that could also get moved up. The opening schedule is barring any complications, the department said.
I-40 EB lanes on the Hernando DeSoto bridge is OPEN! pic.twitter.com/2xo4yv5F56
— Nichole Lawrence (@NicLawrenceTDOT) August 1, 2021
An estimated $9.5 million has been spent so far on the bridge’s repairs, design, and inspection after the closure, an Arkansas transportation official said this week. The cost will be split between the two states.
I-40 runs from North Carolina to California. Manufacturers and shippers rely on the interstate to move products and materials across the river. About 50,000 vehicles typically travel across the bridge when it’s open, with about a quarter of those being commercial trucks, Tennessee transportation officials say.