The Arkansas Department of Transportation 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, according to agency officials.
“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. “This is unacceptable and this employee has been terminated as of this morning,” she continued.
The drone video that showed evidence of this fracture in May of 2019 was taken when Michael Baker International was performing an inspection of the cables and upper portion of the bridge, not the metal supports below. The Department will start changing the inspection process by adding redundancies, with further changes possible in the future.
“A multi-agency team, including two contracting firms and both Departments of Transportation, worked through the weekend,” said Deputy Director & Chief Engineer Rex Vines, “to develop a plan to stabilize the structure, begin planning on a permanent repair, and have started reviewing contractors for the work.”
The team will also continue to inspect and investigate the bridge to be sure that any long term damages, caused by the fracture or otherwise, are addressed. The Departments expect to have a rough timeline for returning traffic to the bridge once a contractor has been selected and they have been consulted on the work needed.
A webpage dedicated to this closure of the I-40 Mississippi River Bridge is available. You can also stay current on this issue by following @myARDOT on Twitter or using the hashtag #40MSRiverBridge. Find additional information at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov.