Seismic improvements to Hernando De Soto bridge will slow traffic

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(Memphis) Summertime slowdowns over the mighty Mississippi River.

A project to make the Hernando De Soto Bridge safer during an earthquake will cause headaches for drivers.

Regardless of whether you're heading east or west, you're going to encounter traffic slowdowns on the Interstate 40 bridge over the Mississippi River.

The work is expected to last through the summer and TDOT officials are urging drivers to be patient and prepare for delays.

On a beautiful summer morning, there's nothing prettier than the Hernando De Soto Bridge spanning the Mississippi River.

But the view is lot different if your stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, heading into Arkansas.

The two westbound lanes have been shifted to the center of the bridge and the eastbound outside lane is closed for the rest of the summer.

The lane shifts are for safety reasons while workers install modular seismic expansion joints.

David and Olivia Hoffman stopped at the Memphis Welcome Center while on their way home to  Wilmington, Delaware.

The couple used the eastbound lane of the bridge Wednesday morning and were glad they didn't have too much of a slowdown.

"Actually, it wasn't bad. But I think we were late enough that we were not here at rush hour, which would have been a lot worse. But right here at 10:30-11:00 it really wasn't bad," said Olivia Hoffmann.

The only issue for some drivers was trying to get to the Welcome Center from points west.

The ramp to Riverside Drive is closed due to construction that isn't connected to the seismic improvements on the bridge.

A group of people heading home to Florida managed to find the Welcome Center in spite of the ramp closure.

"There's a good amount of temporary signage that describes exactly how to get here to the Welcome Center," said John Sappet from Ormond Beach, Florida.

George Hagans, his wife and four children are traveling to Dallas, Texas from Mt. Vernon, New York.

They stopped at the Memphis Welcome Center before heading across the Hernando De Soto Bridge.

Hagans said he's used to driving in "stop and go" traffic and a "slowdown" in Memphis is not a "big deal."

"I don't know if you guys are aware, but The George Washington Bridge is under construction also. So you have to be ready for a back-up at any moment. You never know when it's going to happen," said Hagans.

TDOT cautions drivers to be extra careful when approaching the bridge and be courteous to other drivers.

You might also want to consider using the I-55 bridge to avoid traffic snarls.