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Structural crack shuts down interstate bridge crossing Mississippi River in Memphis

Structural crack shuts down interstate bridge crossing Mississippi River in Memphis
© Tennessee Department of Transportation

An interstate bridge going over the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn., has been shut down after a structural crack was identified during an inspection this week.

The Commercial Appeal reported that the crack was discovered on the Hernando de Soto Bridge when a consultant was performing a routine inspection Tuesday afternoon. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) said the crack was found on what has been described as a support beam.

Drones were sent out on Tuesday to assess the state of the crack. The drones were used in order to keep personnel and equipment off the bridge, the Appeal reported.

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"To get the best visuals, drones are the way to go," Dave Parker, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, told the outlet.

Parker said the bridge could be closed for as long as a week, depending on the conditions that are found.

The newspaper noted that the bridge, which connects Tennessee to the west side of the Mississippi River, is crucial to regional logistics. This shutdown comes as much of the Southeast has already been impacted by gas shortages brought on by the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

The bridge was built in 1973 and was retrofitted in 1993 to withstand potential earthquakes. State data indicates that the bridge was last inspected in 2019, though it is unclear who conducted the inspection.

"In this particular bridge’s case, Tennessee and Arkansas have worked out sort of a relationship where Arkansas does the bridge inspections, Tennessee DOT does all the repair and maintenance work," Doug Hecox, spokesperson for the Federal Highway Administration, told the Appeal. "And so all the emergency work that is needed for this, depending on what it looks like, will all be handled by TDOT."