There’s good news and bad news for anyone using the Interstate 40 (I-40) Hernando DeSoto Bridge crossing the Mississippi River at Memphis, Tennessee.
First, the good news: No one has been hurt.
Now for the bad news: The bridge is entirely shut down, and traffic has been rerouted as work crews investigate a crack in the bridge — and begin emergency repairs.
The bridge carries I-40 across the Mississippi River between West Memphis, Arkansas, and Memphis. Responsibility for the bridge is shared by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT).
During a routine inspection, an ArDOT contractor discovered “a crack in the bottom side of the bridge truss” and “immediately shut down the bridge,” TDOT announced in a statement.
A Vital Connection
Construction began on the I-40 Hernando DeSoto Bridge in May 1967 and opened to traffic on August 2, 1973, WMC Action News reports. It was a $57 million project.
Today, the bridge is sometimes called the “new bridge” since it is newer than the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge, which carries Interstate 55 across the river. Because the bridge has a double-arch architecture, it is also known as the “M Bridge” due to its distinctive shape.
About 40,000 vehicles cross the I-40 Hernando DeSoto Bridge each day, according to TDOT.
UPDATE: #40MSRiverBridge will remain closed through morning rush-hour. Traffic must detour by using I-55 to cross the MS River.— IDrive Arkansas (@IDriveArkansas) May 12, 2021
Plan for extra time, I-55 is already slowing down due to the extra traffic. Please continue to follow along for updates! #artraffic #neatraffic pic.twitter.com/MXNgBBGHRi
Know Before You Go
“For the motoring public’s safety, the bridge will be entirely shut down while crews investigate the crack’s extent further and then repair the problem,” according to TDOT.
Right now, it isn’t clear how long the repairs will take or how long the bridge will be closed. In the meantime, detours are in place in both Tennessee and Arkansas.
“Traffic is being rerouted in both directions to I-55 as an alternate route across the river,” TDOT explains. “River traffic is also shut down until further notice.”
You can find the latest travel information here.