ARDOT: Fired inspector oversaw reviews of 9 ‘critical bridges’ in Arkansas over the last year

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I-40 bridge crack (ARDOT photo)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas inspector fired after failing to note a crack in the Interstate 40 Mississippi River bridge in 2019 video was the lead inspector in many critical bridge inspections over the last year, transportation officials say.

According to a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, the now terminated staffer oversaw nine inspections.

The spokesperson noted that those bridges are already in the process of being re-inspected by state teams. With the exception of the I-40 bridge, those inspections should be complete by the end of June.

The Hernando DeSoto Bridge, which connects Arkansas and Tennessee, shut down after inspectors came across the crack on May 11.

On Monday, ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor announced the firing of the employee after it was revealed video shot during the 2019 inspection process show the visible crack at that point in time.

Tudor said the employee had told officials he did not see the crack during the inspection. Transportation officials claim the employee did not follow department protocols.

During a news conference earlier this week, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said it could be several months before the bridge reopens to vehicle traffic.

Barge traffic on the Mississippi River, which was also stopped when inspectors recently detected the fracture, resumed Monday.

This is a developing story. Please check back for details.

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