TDOT goes around the I-40 bridge; reopening in sight

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MEMPHIS, Tennessee (WMC) – For the first time since closing the I-40 bridge to all forms of traffic, the Tennessee Department of Transportation took the media for a tour to see the progress in repair efforts.

“Right now we have about 1.2 million pounds of stress relieved from the fractured limb,” said Brandon Akins, TDOT operations engineer. “We were able to cut the fractured limb and we are now moving on to the second part of phase 2.”

The second phase of Phase 2 involved placing eight steel plates along the area where the fractured limb once stood.

According to Akins, four of the plaques had already been installed by the time of our tour on Monday morning and the final plaque would have been installed that evening.

“It’s a pretty complicated process,” Akins said. “There are over four thousand bolts to put in place. It’s a very slow process to drill these bolts and install them, but we are working around the clock to get this installed as quickly as possible.

After the plates are in place, it will take some time to review the repairs.

Akins said those 4,000 bolts, along with 1,200 linear feet of welds, will need to be inspected to make sure the job has been done correctly.

“This preliminary report is due this week, so we will review and open it as soon as possible,” he said.

Prior to the tour, the most up-to-date reopening schedule was set for late July-early August.

Akins was unable to update this timeline, but said once the report is reviewed, a more specific reopening date may be scheduled.

At the same time, Akins was happy to update traffic statistics on the smaller I-55 bridge, which took over the excess traffic with the closure of the I-40 bridge.

The I-55 southbound lane from the bridge was recently redesigned and enlarged to divert traffic to different areas, and Akins said after monitoring the data for the past two weeks, he has seen positive results.

“We are showing a 77% reduction in traffic delays on I-55. This is a big kudos to the efforts of the stakeholders involved.

For commercial traffic, Akins referred to a recent Arkansas Trucking Association report that there has been a downward trend in the additional logistics costs of getting commercial vehicles across the Mississippi from $ 2.4 million to just over $ 900,000.

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