Video shows evidence of damage on I-40 Memphis bridge two years earlier

US & World

MEMPHIS, TN (WREG)— A drone video, taken by an inspector in May 2019, shows evidence of damage in the area where a crack was discovered on an I-40 bridge support Tuesday, the Arkansas Department of Transportation confirmed Friday.

That discovery shut down traffic on a major interstate connecting Tennessee and Arkansas this week.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) is now investigating to see if the damage was noted in a September 2019 inspection report and what action might have been taken.

ARDOT shares custody of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge with Tennessee’s Department of Transportation. Under the agreement, Tennessee handles maintenance of the main part of the bridge while Arkansas handles inspections like the one that caught the massive crack Tuesday.

Most U.S. bridges get inspected every two years, but ARDOT Chief Engineer Rex Vines said the 48-year-old Hernando DeSoto bridge gets extra eyes with annual inspections.

The most recent in September of 2020 checked out, he said.

“This crack had not shown up before,” Vines said earlier this week.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Friday morning reopened the Lower Mississippi River to vessel traffic. Traffic had been halted at Memphis, causing a backup of barges on the river.

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