File photo shows the Hernando DeSoto Bridge in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo: Trevor Birchett/CC BY-SA 4.0

Coast Guard Closes Section of Mississippi River Near Memphis Due to Cracked Bridge

Mike Schuler
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May 12, 2021

Update (Thursday, May 13): A section of the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee remains closed with the queue of vessels now at 44 vessels with a total of 709 barges in queue, the Coast Guard said in an update. “River reopening is dependent on TDOT inspection results,” it said.

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed a portion of the Mississippi River near the I-40 Hernando DeSoto Bridge in Memphis, Tennessee after a “significant crack” was discovered near the center span.

The Coast Guard said the waterway restriction closes the river to all vessel traffic between mile marker 736 and mile marker 737. Earlier the Coast Guard reported 16 vessels with a total of 229 barges in the queue, which increased to currently 24 vessels with a total of 346 barges by late Wednesday afternoon.

The crack was discovered during a routine inspection of the bridge by the Arkansas Department of Transportation, which immediately shut the bridge down to road traffic. It described the crack as a “significant crack in a steel support beam that is crucial for the structure of the bridge.”

The Coast Guard said the rive’s reopening was dependent on inspection results by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

“The Coast Guard is currently working with Arkansas Department of Transportation, Tennessee Department of Transportation and river industry stakeholders on this developing situation,” said Capt. Ryan Rhodes, captain of the Port of Memphis. “Based on the current information available, we have closed a portion of the Lower Mississippi River out of an abundance of caution. The captain of the port is monitoring the situation and will continue to ensure the safety of the maritime environment and surrounding community.”

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