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ATA: I-40 Closure Could Cost Trucking $2.4M A Day

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The closure of the Hernando de Soto Bridge connecting Arkansas and Tennessee on Interstate 40  could cost the trucking industry more than $2.4 million a day, the Arkansas Trucking Association said Friday.

The bridge shut down abruptly Tuesday when inspectors discovered a “significant fracture” in one of two 900-foot horizontal steel beams that are crucial for the bridge’s integrity.

Repairs could take months, Tennessee Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Paul Degges said Wednesday.

“Around 12,500 trucks traveled over the I-40 bridge each day and an additional 14,000 trucks cross the I-55 bridge daily,” ATA President Shannon Newton said in a news release. “The closure of the I-40 bridge creates bottlenecks and delays impacting all 26,500 trucks relying on this major freight corridor connecting east and west. 

“Using GPS data, we can discern that a previous eight-minute drive is now averaging 84 minutes. This additional transit time at $1.20 a minute for 26,500 trucks is costing the trucking industry more than $2.4 million each day that the bridge is closed.”

That $1.20 is derived from operational cost data provided by the American Transportation Research Institute.

“Freight is like water,” Newton said. “It will continue to flow. Our industry will continue to make deliveries. But if the additional expense is prolonged, it is likely to be passed on to consumers.”

A Tennessee official said Wednesday that it’s still too early to tell when the bridge will reopen. 

“We are hopeful that we can find a solution that would allow us to proceed with some opening of traffic, but right now we just don’t know,” Degges said.

One part of the supply chain may be spared going forward. Boat and barge traffic under the bridge, on the Mississippi River near Memphis, resumed Friday, after being closed for three days.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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