The United States Coast Guard has closed the Mississippi River between mile markers 736 and 737 and is not allowing traffic to flow, according to the Memphis office. Engineers and bridge inspectors are on scene Wednesday attempting to determine a plan of action following Tuesday afternoon’s discovery of a six inch crack in a support beam.
The bridge last had an inspection per Federal regulations in 2019 and received a fair rating. That meant the structure has normal erosion, cracking and minimal section loss. In an agreement similar to what we have with the Mississippi River Bridge here in Vicksburg, Arkansas and Tennessee share usage but Tennessee will take the lead in addressing the repairs.
The closure, in addition to impacting barge traffic, is forcing the commercial trucking industry to reroute loads across the southern United States. Most motor carriers prefer to keep their trucks moving on Interstate highway systems whenever possible.
If this closure extends for several days, we could not only see an increase in vehicle traffic on our Interstate system but it will definitely impact traffic on the Mississippi River. Officials are expected to release their plan of action Wednesday.