No concerns over O’Neal Bridge after I-40 crack in Memphis

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 6:23 AM CDT
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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WAFF) - Right now, the I-40 bridge connecting Memphis and Arkansas over the Mississippi River is closed because of a huge crack.

Monday, a state inspector was fired after video from his 2019 inspection clearly showed the crack forming. This situation is calling into question the structural integrity of other bridges.

The O’Neal Bridge in Tuscumbia is 82-years-old, more than 30-years-older than the I-40 bridge. Right now, there are no plans for an emergency inspection, according to our partners at the Times Daily.

Local transportation officials say there is no need to worry, though.

In 2017, a 13.4 million dollar rehab project was finished on the O’Neal Bridge. Dal Ogle, the maintenance engineer in the Transportation Department’s Tuscumbia Office said the bridge got an exceptional amount of inspection and maintenance during the project.

He said there are also “citizen bridge inspectors”. People like fishermen or towboat operators who cross under bridges and may send in reports if they see anything they find unusual.

Seth Burkett with ALDOT said that the most recent renovation to the bridge was the $13.4 million rehabilitation project in 2015 designed to strengthen the bridge.

The project was finished in 2017.

Burkett said that the bridge has a routine inspection every two years.

The last one was in September 2019.

“We try to stay on top of any issues that might arise. It’s not uncommon for bridges to require maintenance work here and there but with this rehab project that we recently did we’re anticipating greatly extending the lifespan of this structure,” said Burkett.

The next routine inspection is scheduled for September of this year.

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