MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that phase one of the repair of the Interstate 40 bridge connecting the state to Arkansas has been completed.
A spokesperson for the department said Kiewit Infrastructure Group worked around the clock to install fabricated steel plates on each side of the crack to secure the Hernando Desoto Bridge for permanent repairs.
While planning for phase two is still underway, it will include extending the platform and removing and replacing the damaged piece. This phase will have to be complete before traffic is reopened.
The City of West Memphis reported that the work involved the drilling and bolting 315 holes for the outside steel plate.
“Inspectors continue to review the drone footage. So far, there is nothing of concern. A final report could tentatively be available by the end of the week,” the city said on its Facebook page.
The bridge, which links Tennessee and Arkansas at Memphis, was closed indefinitely May 11 after inspectors found a large fracture in a steel support.
It opened in 1973 and carried more than 37,000 vehicles a day in 2018. It was last inspected in 2019 and is inspected every two years, TDOT said.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation employee in charge of the inspection of the bridge was terminated after it was discovered that video from the 2019 bridge inspection showed the crack already visible at that time.
ARDOT officials said they are in the process of reviewing inspections of the fired employee, identified as Monty Frazier. Department officials noted Frazier oversaw the inspections of 9 “critical bridges” in the last year.
There is currently no set timeframe for when all repairs on the I-40 bridge will be complete, though transportation officials have said it could take months.