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VOL. 45 | NO. 31 | Friday, July 30, 2021

I-40 bridge linking Arkansas, Tennessee fully reopens

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MEMPHIS (AP) — The Interstate 40 bridge linking Arkansas and Tennessee fully reopened Monday ahead of schedule following repairs to a crack that had shut down the span since early May.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation's spokeswoman said in a tweet the department reopened the westbound lanes of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge over the Mississippi River to traffic. The agency had not originally planned to reopen the westbound lanes until Friday.

The bridge's eastbound lanes reopened on Saturday night.

The I-40 bridge was shut down May 11 after inspectors found a crack in one of two 900-foot (275-meter) horizontal steel beams critical for the bridge's structural integrity. Road traffic had been diverted to the nearby Interstate 55 bridge during the I-40 bridge's repairs.

An estimated $9.5 million has been spent so far on the bridge's repairs, design and inspection after the closure, an Arkansas transportation official said last week. The cost will be split between the two states.

I-40 runs from North Carolina to California. Manufacturers and shippers rely on the interstate to move products and materials across the river. About 50,000 vehicles typically travel across the bridge daily when it's open, with about a quarter of those being commercial trucks, Tennessee transportation officials say.

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