TDOT quiet on I-55 bridge closure plans
Brawley has hopes ‘ they really are looking at other options’
Is no news good news concerning the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Crump Boulevard roundabout project?
That was the question pondered by those in attendance at the recent quarterly meeting of the West Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The board wanted an update about the controversial plan to shut down the Memphis and Arkansas Bridge (the “Old Bridge”) on Interstate 55 during the construction. The closure — projected to be from nine months to more than a year — has been opposed by leaders on this side of the river from the start.
The local MPO met 90 days ago and not one elected official, city administrator or engineer in the group heard a peep out of TDOT planners in the meantime.
“As far as I know with the Crump Boulevard project, they have not had any meetings in the last three months,” said MPO Study Director Eddie Brawley.
“They have not published their study results. So, I don’t know if they are rethinking this or not.”
After backlash in a series of public information meetings where plans to close the old bridge were revealed in West Memphis last summer, TDOT planners agreed to re-study economic impact on Eastern Arkansas.
“They’ve committed to release the results of their updated study by the end of August,” said Marion Chamber of Commerce President Mike Demster.
“You would have thought we’d have had more information or meeting about this by now,” said Brawley. Brawley recapped the only two construction options forwarded by TDOT to date.
“The same two alterna- tives are all that is out there, either 6 years with one lane open to cars on Interstate 55 with trucks using Interstate 40 during the whole project or a three year project if they close the bridge for nine months,” said Brawley.
Meanwhile, demolition of an abandoned warehouse between Crump Boulevard and the Memphis Hershey plant has begun. The original plan called for razing the building as part of the interchange project.
“Hopefully, the reason we have not heard anything is
they really are looking at other options,” said Brawley. “But for now, it’s still on hold.”
By John Rech