I-40 bridge: Are job requirements adequate for inspectors?

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Tennessee crews have begun repairs on the I-40 bridge between Memphis and Arkansas.

Crews have set up a temporary platform under the bridge. Phase one of the repairs involves installing steel plates on each side of the fractured beam to hold the heavy equipment in place for crews to make permanent repairs.

Now, some are questioning who is really to blame for the crack in the bridge. KNWA/FOX24 received an inquiry about the training and requirements to be a bridge inspector and examined if it is adequate.

Employee records show the former lead bridge inspector had worked for the Arkansas Transportation Department since 2006. Public Information Officer Dave Parker said for this role, a minimum of five years of experience is required, two of those being assistant bridge inspectors.

“In this particular case, this individual apparently missed something,” Parker said.

Parker said in addition to the five years of experience, lead inspectors take training courses and learn engineering concepts.

“Then, they undergo a two-week class which I understand is pretty intense,” Parker said. “As one engineer described it, it is a college-like, required two-week course.”

Records show despite the inspector being at ARDOT for more than the five year minimum, he did not have a college degree. Parker said this is not a requirement for the role.

So, requirements show the inspector was required for the job, but was that enough?

“This was not the result of an individual not doing his work but it’s a process problem,” Parker said.

Parker said ARDOT is bringing in an outside consultant to help determine how to avoid this problem again in the future.

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