West Memphis mayor, ARDOT officials meet to address traffic issues caused by I-40 bridge closure

I-40 bridge

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Leaders in the city of West Memphis met with ARDOT officials Friday to talk about how they can help the traffic congestion in the city since the closure of the I-40 bridge.

The closure of the bridge is having a major impact not just because of the traffic. Businesses and emergency services are affected, too.

“We all know that this has truly inconvenienced our community, has made a major impact in the city of West Memphis,” said West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon.

Friday morning, West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon met with members of ARDOT to figure out ways to alleviate traffic issues in the city. They’re talking about re-routing some traffic, as well as adding more messaging boards.

“We’re asking people if you take 55 to go ahead and merge early. Don’t wait until you get all the way on the Tennessee side to try to jump across a lane,” McClendon said.

He says merging later can be dangerous and slows traffic flow. 

Another issue is emergency vehicle access needing to make it to Memphis. The mayor plans to reach out to Arkansas governor for help with emergency ATVs.

“There’s some designed for EMS that have the stretcher on the back,” McClendon said.

They hope the ATV’s can more easily maneuver through traffic. With the I-40 closure, there’s a strain on city crews.

“We’re having to call people in. We’re also having to have more people watch our interstates, help direct and guide more cars and trucks on the interstate,” McClendon said.

He says this closure shows the need for conversations bigger than the bridge fix.

“It’s been talked about for years the need for a third bridge. I think really that needs to be talked about more,” McClendon said. “If I could talk to President Biden, I’d say please get a bipartisan bill together so we infrastructure passed here in the city and around the country. I think it’s important they look at these issues.”

He also says he’s been communicating with Memphis’ mayor and the chamber. Next week, he plans to hold a meeting with West Memphis businesses to hear their concerns as well.

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