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Vessels queued after Mississippi River closed near Memphis

Christian Fernsby |
Towing vessels and barges are lining up near Memphis, Tenn. after a significant structural crack discovered on the I-40 Hernando de Soto Bridge bridge led the U.S. Coast Guard to halt vessel traffic in the area.

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At least 16 vessels with a total of 229 barges are waiting to transit in either direction after vessel traffic was restricted between mile markers 736 and 737 on the Lower Mississippi River, the Coast Guard said on Wednesday afternoon.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) discovered the crack in one of the bridge's crucial steel support beams during a routine inspection on Tuesday. The agency said the bridge will remain closed to vehicle traffic for an unknown amount of time while engineers study the extent of the damage.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), which shares responsibility for the bridge with ARDOT, said it will hire contract crews to begin emergency repairs.

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