New I-40 Bridge Inspection Reveals ARDOT Missed Even More Needed Repairs
Memphis, TN – A new inspection of the shuttered Hernando DeSoto Bridge along Interstate 40 revealed previous inspections failed to identify additional repairs also needed before the bridge can be reopened.
Following the abrupt closure of the I-40 bridge — connecting Arkansas and Tennessee — in May, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) commissioned a new inspection.
TDOT announced late last week the result of the latest inspection revealed “additional repairs” are needed besides the ongoing project to fix a major break in one of the trusses.
This week, TDOT provided an update on precisely what the further repairs entail and how officials are proceeding.
“Bridge inspectors conducted ultrasound testing on more than 500 weld connections,” TDOT stated. “We have identified nine locations that need plating. We are currently completing the design of those plates this week. Material is being sourced with fabrication to follow.”
The I-40 bridge agreement between Arkansas and Tennessee requires that the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) be responsible for routine and special bridge inspections while TDOT manage maintenance and repairs.
In a press conference shortly after the bridge’s sudden closure, ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor acknowledged the failure of her Department to properly inspect the bridge.
ARDOT subsequently fired a senior bridge inspector allegedly responsible for missing the critical damage.
Arkansas officials said the inspector — whose identity was not released — led a team of four to six people during inspections of the bridge in September 2019 and September 2020.
Further, Tudor referred the matter to the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice for “their determination if further investigation, criminal or otherwise is warranted.”
Additionally, the embattled ARDOT Director admitted the ordeal “revealed a process failure that is the responsibility of ARDOT.”
The Federal Highway Administration is conducting a comprehensive assessment of ARDOT’s bridge inspection program as a result of the glaring failure.
Meanwhile, the repairs to the initial fracture have now been completed, according to TDOT.
Officials said they remain hopeful to have the bridge reopened by the end of this month.
TransportationNation.com will continue to track it closely.