The Hernando DeSoto Bridge, an essential motorway crossing two miles long and located between Memphis and eastern Arkansas – were forced to close earlier this week after transportation officials discovered a massive crack in a central part of his skeleton. Now it is not known when this crack will be repaired.
Since this crack was discovered during a routine inspection last Tuesday, emergency closures on the bridge and waterway below have held back thousands of vehicles and nearly 800 barges carrying crude oil, as well as crops like grain and soybeans. Tennessee Department of Transportation official numbers Bridge traffic at around 45,000 vehicles per day, which will now be diverted to (and obstructing) neighboring roads.
The exact duration of these repairs depends on who you ask. Paul Degges, chief engineer at the Tennessee Department of Transportation told CNN that it would “probably take a minimum of six to eight weeks” before the state could properly repair the crack.
A big part of this is just because we don’t even know how deeply this nearly 50 year old is fucked. the bridge is in fact. Degrees added in another interview that the first step is to have DOT engineers perform models to assess the depth of this damage, before diving forward with a repair plan. The crackle the beam is 900 feet long and is made of four solid steel blades, with “at least two” that appear to no longer be connected after the crack, he added. There is also the extra time it would take to fabricate these new beams as the country is still grappling with a growing steel shortage.
It is not known exactly how long the crack has been there or where it came from. In 2019, the Hernando DeSoto received a “fair” rating from the US Department of Transportation’s National Bridge Inventory, which is just one level above “poor”. And Tennessee is not alone here – a 2020 Analysis found that more than a third of the country’s bridges – around 231,000 in total – need to be repaired or fully replaced. When Joe Biden presented his vision of the American employment plan in March, he was sure to mention plans to repair the ten “economically most important” bridges in the country, as well as 10,000 small bridges that had fallen into disrepair.
In the meantime, the bridge has become a talking point for politicians on both sides who agree that crumbling infrastructure needs a solution, but disagree on how that solution should be. funded. Democratic Representative Steve Cohen, whose district includes Memphis, Told NBC News that he would work with authorities in Arkansas and Tennessee to ensure that improvements to the Hernando DeSoto are included in Biden’s infrastructure plans. But Republican lawmakers have argued that Biden’s $ 2.3 billion plan is too big to give our country’s “hard infrastructure” – like roads and bridges – the urgent help they clearly need.