Story at a glance:
- A bridge between Arkansas and Tennessee is shut down after inspectors found a crack last week.
- The crack has been evident since 2019, but the inspector failed to report the incident.
- The inspector was fired for negligence.
The crack on Hernando de Soto Bridge, which connects Little Rock, Ark., and Memphis. Tenn., had gone unnoticed for two years — an error that prompted the Arkansas Department of Transportation to fire the employee responsible for inspecting it.
On Monday, the department said the fracture was evident and has been since May 2019, but the person in charge of inspecting it failed to report it, according to CNN.
“The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) has confirmed that there was a failure in the inspection process which allowed evidence of damage to the I-40 Mississippi River Bridge to go unnoticed,” ARDOT said in a release.
A photo of the crack was released by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The bridge, which serves a major role in allowing traffic to pass between the two states, is currently shut down. Officials noticed the crack last week during an inspection.
The bridge is not just a local issue. The shut down of the bridge is critical to deliveries and commuters and affects the national economy.
Cornell professor Rick Geddes told CBS News that the bridges such as this one are “enormous pieces of the economy and critical for everyday life.”
“It is much more cost effective to do maintenance on the proper, regular schedule than it is to defer it, because you might have to tear out the whole road or tear out the whole bridge,” he added.
CBS also reports that river traffic around the bridge was also stopped for three days.
“From our investigation we have determined that the same employee who conducted the inspection in both 2019 and 2020 failed to carry out his responsibilities correctly,” Director Lorie Tudor said in the release. “This is unacceptable and this employee has been terminated as of this morning.”
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