CRITTENDEN COUNTY, Ark. – A county official in Crittenden County says the Interstate 40 bridge spanning the Mississippi and connecting Arkansas to Memphis will reopen sooner than expected.
County Judge Woody Wheeless said in the post that the eastbound lanes of the bridge are set to reopen between Sunday night and Monday morning, with westbound lanes opening “a few days later.”
Wheeless told Breaking News anchor Mitch McCoy that he got the information from the Arkansas Department of Transportation and that he expects a release to go out publicly sometime Wednesday.
As of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, there has not been any public update from ARDOT on the reopening schedule for the bridge.
Officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, who are overseeing the repair, said Monday that they were performing stress tests on the bridge this week. The prior Friday TDOT reported that the repairs needed would likely push the bridge opening to sometime in “the first part of August.”
ARDOT officials released a statement regarding the I-40 bridge reopening:
“As we have done through this entire process, we are coordinating all communication with TDOT. Any updates or reopening announcements will be communicated jointly.”ARDOT Officials
The bridge has been closed to all vehicle traffic since May 11, when inspectors found a crack in one of two 900-foot steel beams critical to the structural integrity of the bridge.
Officials also closed barge traffic for a time but reopened the river after a few days.
The closure has led to major traffic backups in both Memphis and West Memphis as drivers take alternate routes, often times be diverted to the I-55 bridge.