MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Truckers say timing is the key to getting through Memphis with a big load, thanks to the extended closure of the Interstate 40 bridge across the Mississippi River.
“I try to come through at night. So I get lucky most of the time. I got here at midnight last night,” says 40-year truck driver Paul Rock.
With the closure of the Interstate 40 bridge, delays are unavoidable.
“Well, what they call it, it’s the waiting game. When you are in these trucks, getting loaded or unloaded, it’s the waiting game,” says 20-year truck driver Jeffrey Crout.
For trucker drivers, delays that affect time on the road directly affect their pay.
“I can only drive 11 hours a day. If you sit an hour in traffic, that takes away from your drive time,” said Rock.
One trucker reached out to us in frustration about the backups on the interstate saying many truck drivers are ignoring or missing signs to let them know they might want to get off the interstate and hit side streets, like exiting off I-55 at Third Street and taking it to Crump to get back on the Interstate 55.
Others they say are getting stuck at low-hanging railroad bridges and causing further traffic delays as they wait for TDOT or MPD to stop traffic so they can turn around.
TDOT does provide digital signs so drivers are aware of the delays and suggest they consider alternate routes, but drivers say sometimes those can be missed.
“There are a lot of signs. A lot of them just tell you to go around and find an alternate route. But I have been around here enough to know that I-55 is the way to come down,” said Rock.
So they also rely on one another, hoping those who been down the road reach out with tips to make things easier for others.
TDOT says it has several direct messages telling drivers to use alternate routes. In addition, TDOT provides up to date information regarding traffic flowing throughout the state of Tennessee from their SmartWay services.
TDOT informed us they have also reached out to trucking associations about detours.
TDOT tells us that repairs remain on schedule for the I-40 bridge to reopen by the end of July.