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More than 700 ships, barges stalled in Mississippi River near Memphis: Coast Guard

Highlights

Interstate Highway 40 bridge shut due to structural issue

River traffic remains suspended with bridge closure

  • Author
  • Savannah Bush
  • Editor
  • Richard Rubin
  • Commodity
  • Agriculture Metals

More than 700 ships are delayed on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee, because a bridge across the river has been shut after a structural problem was discovered, the US Coast Guard reported May 13.

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Recent counts show the closure has bottlenecked some 44 large ships and 709 barges both northbound and southbound, up from 16 large ships and 229 barges reported on May 12, between mile marker 736 and 737, according to the Coast Guard.

The Hernando de Soto Bridge on Interstate Highway 40 between Memphis, Tennessee, and West Memphis, Arkansas, remained closed to all road and river traffic "indefinitely" after a routine inspection on May 11 revealed a major crack in a steel truss," according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation. All traffic was suspended on the six-lane bridge the same afternoon, the DOT said in a statement.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation, in a separate statement, said barge traffic cannot resume until engineers determine the 50-year-old bridge can stand on its own despite the crack, adding that it could take several weeks to complete a full inspection of the span.

The Coast Guard gave no estimate when that stretch of the river would be reopened.