MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The I-40 bridge has partially reopened after it was shut down for repairs on May 11 when inspectors found a large crack in a metal beam.
The bridge was scheduled to open Monday, but the Tennessee Department of Transportation says contractors were ahead of schedule allowing for the eastbound lanes to open Saturday night.
TDOT says the westbound lanes are still scheduled to reopen on August 6, but there’s a possibility they could reopen sooner.
This is big news not just for those who commute across the bridge but for businesses in Tennessee and Arkansas.
Crews spent the day clearing and re-striping the bridge to prepare for the drivers who’ve been waiting to utilize the bridge again. The CEO and President of the Greater Memphis Chamber told WREG-TV this is a huge deal since the supply chain is driven greatly by access to transportation.
CEO and President of the Greater Memphis Chamber, Beverly Robertson, says this is big news for local businesses.
“The trucking industry has lost a lot with us being the third busiest trucking corridor in the country. So many goods and services come here and then go out from there,” said Robertson.
Robertson says due to the traffic delays that have occurred on the I-55 bridge as a direct result of the I-40 closure, businesses have suffered great financial losses.
“We’ll be able to see probably within the next month a significant bounceback. I think what has happened is that people had to adjust so the supply chain slowed,” said Robertson.
TDOT says all interstate traffic in the Memphis area is still being diverted to I-55 until the westbound lanes reopen.
A TDOT spokeswoman recently said starting in 2022 work on Crump boulevard leading up to the I-55 bridge will begin, and it’s unclear how much that will impact the Old Bridge or traffic.
“I think many of these businesses are looking at that and trying to identify what plans they need to put in place to ensure that they can mitigate any negative impact from a bridge closure,” said Robertson.
Even though the bridge has reopened, a representative with TDOT says it is still an active work zone.
So, they are encouraging motorists to pay attention to portable message boards and SmartWay for specific traffic information.