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Old 05-12-2021, 09:44 PM   #1
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Memphis I-40 bridge failure

We have our first big trip coming up in a couple of weeks. Our first leg will take us eastbound through Memphis and across TN on I-40. With the I-40 bridge shut down, we’ll take I-55 bridge. However, is it better to use the 240 loop since we’ll already be on the south side or go through Mamphis? How much traffic on a Saturday morning? Many lane changes required in a short distance? DH gets nervous in too bad traffic.
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Old 05-12-2021, 10:25 PM   #2
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We just drove east over the I-55 bridge about 5 hours ago. The traffic backed up in the West Memphis area is extreme as there are vehicles all funneling onto I-55. Once we got merged on the highway, we moved well. Crossing the river took less than 10 mins. The total delay was about 40 mins. Once we crossed the bridge, we took I-55 south the 240south out to the I40 with no further delays or congestion.

However, one incident, wreck, or any disruption on the I55 bridge corridor is going to be significant. It could shut this route down. So, we suggest other paths.

Coming back west in four days, we will likely cross the river at 155 (Caruthersville/Dyersberg)
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Old 05-12-2021, 10:26 PM   #3
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Ah, everybody loves solving a conundrum.

It may be easier to make your choice based on a preference for surface street stop lights on EEH Crump Blvd or a slalom course of pot holes, broken pavement, and meandering tractor trailer trucks on 240.
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Old 05-13-2021, 05:41 AM   #4
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Use Waze or some other internet connected app on your phone...

Waze knows the real-time speed of other users and will re-route you based on the traffic speed ahead of you.

(It is really neat to have Waze tell me to make the next exit, and as we are crossing over the interstate, seeing all the brake lights we missed)
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Old 05-13-2021, 06:23 AM   #5
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This is eerily familiar to the closure of the Sherman Minton bridge (I-64) in Louisville back around 2011ish. In fact, the bridge looks to be of similar design and around the same age, possibly also using T1 steel as found on the Sherman Minton. These bridges were found to have issues with using T1 type steel before fracture control plans were created.

T1 steel apparently is very susceptible to this type of cracking and after the discovery on a main support beam on the Sherman Minton, they also found 6 or 7 additional cracks throughout the bridge.

It was believed that the cracking on Sherman Minton was very likely caused by hydrogen that was introduced as the result of improper fabrication procedures of that time period.

The Hernando deSoto crack to me looks more like a complete failure of the section as you can see in the pictures, the beam looks free floating as the sections is no longer aligned or looking connected.

I would not be surprised as they dig in to it that they find additional cracks and quite possibly do a similar repair as they did on the Sherman Minton where they attached steel plating to both sides. It took 4 months, $20 million dollars to get Sherman Minton back open and I think they also had a second refurbishment campaign on the Sherman Minton that did not require it to be closed.

Either way, the similarities are uncanny.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Minton_Bridge
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Old 05-13-2021, 06:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panamerican View Post
This is eerily familiar to the closure of the Sherman Minton bridge (I-64) in Louisville back around 2011ish. In fact, the bridge looks to be of similar design and around the same age, possibly also using T1 steel as found on the Sherman Minton. These bridges were found to have issues with using T1 type steel before fracture control plans were created.

T1 steel apparently is very susceptible to this type of cracking and after the discovery on a main support beam on the Sherman Minton, they also found 6 or 7 additional cracks throughout the bridge.

It was believed that the cracking on Sherman Minton was very likely caused by hydrogen that was introduced as the result of improper fabrication procedures of that time period.

The Hernando deSoto crack to me looks more like a complete failure of the section as you can see in the pictures, the beam looks free floating as the sections is no longer aligned or looking connected.

I would not be surprised as they dig in to it that they find additional cracks and quite possibly do a similar repair as they did on the Sherman Minton where they attached steel plating to both sides. It took 4 months, $20 million dollars to get Sherman Minton back open and I think they also had a second refurbishment campaign on the Sherman Minton that did not require it to be closed.

Either way, the similarities are uncanny.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Minton_Bridge
I was remembering the i35 collapse in Minnesota...

Gusset plating failure... I wonder what kind of steel they used there...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-35...i_River_bridge
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Old 05-13-2021, 08:36 AM   #7
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Thank you for the responses so far.
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Old 05-13-2021, 08:54 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by SeeMore View Post
It may be easier to make your choice based on a preference for surface street stop lights on EEH Crump Blvd or a slalom course of pot holes, broken pavement, and meandering tractor trailer trucks on 240.
Do you have any experience with how tight the lanes on EEH Crump are? Red lights we can handle. Feeling like someone is scraping down the side of our trailer is what makes us nervous! Thanks.
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Old 05-13-2021, 09:32 AM   #9
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We lived in Memphis for 30+ years. I discourage the idea of using interior streets like E.H. Crump Boulevard to transit the City. The lanes are narrow, traffic is high and I believe it will be a slow, nerve-wracking (and dangerous with a trailer) experience.

The better plan is to use I-55 to I-240, then the south leg of I-240 to circle the city until it connects with I-40. There will be very heavy traffic with the closure of the Hernando Desoto (I-40) bridge. Just be patient. I'd say avoid Memphis right now, if possible, but there may be no easy way to do that.

I-240 is in good shape. Just get in a center lane until on the East side of Memphis, then either of the right two lanes will exit you onto I-40.
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Old 05-13-2021, 09:37 AM   #10
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Saw the media picture of the simple shear failure of the main beam. Was wondering how the hell it got over loaded to fail like that. The mention above of possible hydrogen embrittlement of the beam when it was made would explain it. It would then be no surprise to find more cracked beams.
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Old 05-13-2021, 10:05 AM   #11
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Saw the media picture of the simple shear failure of the main beam. Was wondering how the hell it got over loaded to fail like that. The mention above of possible hydrogen embrittlement of the beam when it was made would explain it. It would then be no surprise to find more cracked beams.
I wonder what was the trigger of the inspection?
Some civil engineer driving over the bridge and getting a 'funny feeling'?

We are all lucky it didn't fail like the I35 bridge in Minnesota, or the I40 Webber's Falls collapse...
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Old 05-13-2021, 10:15 AM   #12
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Take the I-240 south route. Do NOT go thru Memphis - to much traffic and "crazy" drivers. I lived in Memphis for 27 years and now live 40 miles west so I know Memphis and I still have to go there often eventhou I hate to drive there.
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Old 05-13-2021, 10:17 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by sirtate View Post
I wonder what was the trigger of the inspection?
Some civil engineer driving over the bridge and getting a 'funny feeling'?

We are all lucky it didn't fail like the I35 bridge in Minnesota, or the I40 Webber's Falls collapse...
I think according to DOT, every two years open air bridges used by the public must be inspected. What is puzzling to me is that the Sherman Minton bridge in Louisville metro didn't send any alarm bells off in TN for possible retrofitting?! That crack is bigger and more completely failed and my guess is they will uncover a more as the go. Two years (if following DOT guidelines) on a bridge with a known issue and no apparent retrofitting is 1.75 years too long IMHO. They've had 10 years hindsight to not only do more frequent inspections, but to also reinforce the failed design based on what happened in Louisville in 2011, yet I can see no additional retrofitting to address this possibly similar failed design. I'm no engineer, but this could have been prevented based on past exp with this design. The closure of any bridge due to design flaws should have triggered a retrofit program similar to what is found in the airline industry.

sirtate is right, this could have gone sideways in a number of different ways. What I saw was no crack, it looked to me as an outright break of a main support member.
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Old 05-13-2021, 10:24 AM   #14
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Heading west Nashville, Memphis to Bentonville

We're heading out in July on this route. Wasn't aware of bridge issue, is this short term or going on in July do you think? Were actually looking to see if someplace nice to camp near Memphis.




Thanks for the heads up on bridge work!


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Old 05-13-2021, 10:28 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bob Schrader View Post
We're heading out in July on this route. Wasn't aware of bridge issue, is this short term or going on in July do you think? Were actually looking to see if someplace nice to camp near Memphis.




Thanks for the heads up on bridge work!


Bob
We will be traveling to the WB Rally in Lebanon in July and stopping in Graceland for a couple of nights. Checking off another bucket list item...
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Old 05-13-2021, 10:46 AM   #16
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Thank you PEN!

We're traveling from northeast Texas to Lebanon next week. Very timely post for us, too.
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Old 05-13-2021, 12:10 PM   #17
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If I was coming from NE Texas I would take I 20 to Birmingham, I 59 to I 24 near Chattanooga and then NW on I 24 toward Nashville. I lived in Longview for 11 years and traveled this route many times to Knoxville. Westbound I would get off I 40 in Jackson and take 155 I think from Jackson to Dyersburg and cross the River there. Good road and you miss the 80 miles or so from Jackson to Memphis which is one of the most boring drives I have ever seen.
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Old 05-13-2021, 12:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirtate View Post
Use Waze or some other internet connected app on your phone...

Waze knows the real-time speed of other users and will re-route you based on the traffic speed ahead of you.

(It is really neat to have Waze tell me to make the next exit, and as we are crossing over the interstate, seeing all the brake lights we missed)
Yeah, I was driving home on I55 northbound towards West Memphis. I noticed one of the highway notification signs with an accident message. I turn on Waze and as soon as it fired up I saw I was one exit away from the backup. That exit and Waze routing took me completely through the back roads to my intended overnight hotel stop in West Memphis! I love that app!

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Old 05-13-2021, 12:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Schrader View Post
We're heading out in July on this route. Wasn't aware of bridge issue, is this short term or going on in July do you think? Were actually looking to see if someplace nice to camp near Memphis.




Thanks for the heads up on bridge work!


Bob
On the sister bridge in Louisville it took 2 weeks go over the bridge with a fine tooth comb (where they found additional cracks) after the initial alarm bells went off, another 2-3 weeks to get the RFP and then 3-4 months to put the initial band-aid on it.

My guess is that if they don't find more cracks, it could be late June at the earliest. If they find more cracks or they determine that the bridge needs similar plating across the board, Sherman was closed for around 4 months, so you'd be looking at sometime around October/November (weather permitting). This single damage was worse than the sister bridge in Louisville, but so far only one crack found.

Either way you slice it, plan on long delays and alternate routes. Louisville/Southern Indiana back when this happened around 2011 45 min+ delays were commonplace when normally there were little to no delays at all.
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Old 05-13-2021, 12:47 PM   #20
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We took the I-55 detour Eastbound a few years back. Just pack your patience and watch the road signs carefully and leave yourself time and space for merging off of 40.

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