Hernando de Soto Bridge: Vital Memphis bridge shut down after officials find structural crack

The Hernando de Soto Bridge on Interstate 40 in Memphis, Tennessee, was shut down Tuesday and will be closed for emergency repairs, according to a press release from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).

Tennessee shares responsibility for the bridge with the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT), which discovered the crack during a routine inspection and immediately decommissioned the bridge.

“For the safety of motorists, the bridge will be completely closed while the crews continue to investigate the extent of the crack and then fix the problem, which may take some time,” the TDOT press release said.

There are detours in Tennessee and Arkansas that divert traffic in both directions to Interstate 55 as an alternate route across the river. It is not known how long the bridge will remain closed. The authorities have also suspended river traffic until further notice.

Memphis police blocked the entrance to the Hernando de Soto Bridge after one "A structural crack was found that blocked all I-40 lanes over the Mississippi on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

According to Lt. Mark Pipkin of the US Coast Guard’s Lower Mississippi River sector is waiting at least 24 ships with a total of 346 vessels to navigate the Lower Mississippi River in both directions.

The bridge closes as President Joe Biden tries to get his infrastructure plan through Congress. The plan provides funding for improvements to roads, bridges, railways and other infrastructure

The U.S. has received a C- on the American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card, stating that it will need an additional $ 2.6 trillion in funding over the next decade.

According to CNN partner WHBQ-TV, more than 50,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day. TDOT is responsible for repairing and maintaining the bridge, while ArDOT is responsible for inspections that take place every two years, the partner reported. According to CNN subsidiary WMC-TV, the bridge is “an essential part of the American infrastructure for moving traffic and cargo across the country”.

The bridge took six years to build, WMC states, and the governors of Tennessee and Arkansas cut the ribbon in August 1973.