ARKANSAS, USA — If you've driven across the I-40 bridge towards Memphis, chances are that you don't stop and think of the maintenance involved to keep the bridge safe.
"It's a tough job that goes unnoticed," Lorie Tudor, Director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, said.
After a massive crack was discovered in one of the support beams holding up the I-40 bridge, it, along with the workers, are now in the spotlight.
"Three fourths of the way across the river towards Tennessee, closer to the Tennessee side" Steve Frisbee, Assistant Chief Engineer for Operations for ARDOT, said.
Crews are now working around the clock to fix the bridge as soon as possible.
"Once it's cracked, it's cracked," Rex Vines, Chief Engineer for ARDOT, said.
"Once the surfaces aren't touching, they're not performing correctly."
"One entire side is cracked through," Frisbee said.
"The top is cracked through. It probably propagated from the top."
ARDOT said that they discovered the crack after routine inspections of the I-40 bridge.
This specific inspection could have possibly saved lives.
"This inspector and the way they reacted, they are in essence heroes," Dave Parker, a spokesperson for ARDOT, said.
This isn't the first time that the I-40 bridge has become dilapidated and in need of repairs.
Reports show that the bridge was listed as being in "fair" condition when it was last inspected, although ARDOT officials stated today that the bridge was last inspected in September of 2020.
Parker said that this incident acts as a reminder for ARDOT inspectors, as they continue to work on the rest of Arkansas' bridges and roads.
"If this doesn't serve as a wake up call to any of the 27 inspectors, or certainly for ARDOT, then shame on everyone," Parker said.
Officials said that the bridge will be closed indefinitely and that they have no timetable for a reopening.
Their only hope is that it's both effective and soon.
"Hopefully there's going to be an easy fix that is going to happen relatively soon," Tudor said.
Traffic is currently being diverted to the smaller and older I-55 bridge.
ARDOT officials said that although the I-55 bridge is almost 20 years older, it can handle the strain and distress from the increase in traffic.