WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — We’ve gone into detail about how the City of Memphis has been affected by the I-40 bridge closure. Between traffic jams and longer commutes, it’s been a major pain.
But the smaller town of West Memphis, just across the river, is dealing with its own problems as well. West Memphis gets thousands of commuters from the Bluff City every day.
Leaders in the area say having access to the I-40 bridge cut off has had a crippling effect.
Just seven miles across the bridge, West Memphis sees benefits from the I-40 bridge on a daily basis.
Whether it’s Memphians bringing business across the river, or truckers stopping through town before or after using the bridge on their route. There’s been severe shortage of traffic and money spent.
“Just having that many additional people in the city that may go to a gas station or a Walmart to buy the simplest things, that hurts our economy here in West Memphis,” said West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon.
One of the businesses hit hardest is Southland Casino.
Officials say customers normally use the I-40 bridge to visit and spend money daily. As one of the largest employers and most profitable attractions in West Memphis, the strain of lost business hurts.
“I cannot deny that we hurt, we do sort of feel that impact,” said McClendon. “The shutdown of I-40 has really affected their business.”
We reached out to Southland Casino, and they are not doing interviews at this time.
West Memphis leaders say they’re working with the casino and state officials, and they’re hoping even a partial reopening of traffic could help bring back enough business to get by.
“If we can get one lane both ways going, I think that would definitely help to allow some people to come to West Memphis,” said McClendon.
So far, there is no projected date for the bridge to re-open.