ARDOT making changes after 2019 inspection missed bridge crack

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We’ve learned the I-40 bridge suffered a large crack sometime in 2019, but we’re still learning about the process that failed to discover the crack, an error that could’ve been deadly.

One ARDOT worker has already been fired. We dove deep into the bridge inspection process. It seems that more consequences could be on the way.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation inspects close to 14,000 bridges across the state. On Monday, they confirmed a major error on one of their busiest.

“We should have discovered this crack in the beam in 2019,” said Lorie Tudor, ARDOT Director.

ARDOT says an individual inspector was assigned to inspect the bridge manually, inch by inch, in September 2019 and 2020. But that did not happen correctly.

ARDOT did not specify if any other workers were involved in the process, but changes are on the way.

“We will be adding redundancies to our inspection. We’re looking at several things that we have not confirmed yet,” said Rex Vines, ARDOT Chief Engineer.

The crack went unreported until it was found by inspectors last week, a review from drone video in 2019 briefly captured the crack, but ARDOT says it was not found when the video was initially reviewed.

“That drone video was five hours long and there’s a less than one second of this 2019 crack,” said Tudor.

Now, the Federal Highway Administration will be conducting an assessment of ARDOT’s system as a whole.

“The assessment will ensure the appropriate policies, programs and people are in place to meet this responsibility. We welcome this assessment as we move forward to make sure this never happens again,” Tudor said.

Late Monday evening, TDOT announced they have hired a contractor to repair the bridge. They could start working as early as Wednesday.

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