TDOT: Initial I-40 bridge fracture repaired, reopening planned by end of month

I-40 bridge

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that the initial fracture that shut down the Interstate 40 bridge at Memphis has been repaired, although there is more work to be done.

TDOT expects the bridge to reopen by the end of July.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a crisis like this on one of our major bridges, especially along I 40 that’s a major corridor for the nation not just Memphis. So, I think everything is taking place as it should,” said Nichole Lawrence, the TDOT Community Relations Officer.

In early May, a crack or fracture was discovered during a routine inspection of the Interstate 40 bridge over the Mississippi River, which closed the roadway.

Almost two months later, the initial repair is now complete, and the crack is gone.

“That was just the first part of getting that fracture repaired was getting it repaired and removing those post tensioning bars or PT tension bars as we call them, PTs. Now we have to make sure everything else is secure and part of that is the inspection process,” said Lawrence.

TDOT tells WREG work is happening this week to remove post-tensioning rods, final bolting, and torquing, removing rigging from the upper truss section ‘and’ it says the bridge could reopen for traffic in a few weeks.

“So, safety is always our number one priority, and the end of July is still our target date,” said Lawrence. “In yesterday’s report we said there were nine and it was a draft report. So, we have found 10 locations that need further inspections.

With the repairs that still need to be made, we wanted to know if that will impact that end of month target for reopening.

“At this moment I don’t think it will form any additional delays, but again I want to go back and make sure safety is our number one priority. We want to make sure the workers are safe, and our motorists are safe,” Lawrence said.

Additionally, TDOT provided information on what’s on the agenda for this week in their biweekly update:

  • Removed all post-tensioning (PT) rods, now removing weldment/anchors
  • Minor miscellaneous drilling remains on some small connection pieces
  • Final bolting and torquing are ongoing
  • Removal of the rigging from the upper truss section 
  • Several miscellaneous bracing and connection pieces that were initially removed to accommodate the work are being re-installed

Bridge inspectors conducted ultrasound testing on more than 500 weld connections. TDOT said they have identified nine locations that need plating, and they are currently completing the design of those plates this week. Material is being sourced with fabrication to follow.

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