It has been about a month and a half since the Hernando de Soto Bridge closed connecting Arkansas and Tennessee over the Mississippi River. While repairs are still underway, the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) is using some tricks of the trade to reduce the impact this closure has on the trucking industry.
How much time/money has been saved? The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) estimates the cost of operating a truck, from driver pay to diesel fuel to depreciation of the vehicle, to be $71.78 per hour. With the first estimates of costs being $1.57 million each day, truckers spent an extra 21,872 hours every day in added traffic. This is calculated from two parts:
- An average increase of 76 minutes per driver who would have otherwise traveled along the I-40 and must now go along the I-55 bridge (12,500 truckers).
- An average increase of 24 minutes for truckers who would have traveled along the I-55 bridge anyway but now must deal with stronger congestion (14,000 truckers).
While a large increase in driving time for all parties involved, it is a far cry from the initial plans of driving to Lula, Mississippi or Dyersburg, Tennessee. The I-55 bridge is not built to Interstate Highway standards, though, and as such this increased traffic is only a temporary solution.
ARDOT has enacted temporary lane changes in West Memphis, saving time both for the original travelers of the I-55 bridge and truckers who would have traveled along the Hernando de Soto. With ATRI’s latest data saying that 3,000 trucks are opting for a longer route and 23,500 braving the I-55 traffic, the estimated costs now for the broken bridge are approximately $936,000 per day.
Hernando de Soto Bridge repairs are underway. Unfortunately, probably due to not wanting to make promises it cannot keep, the Tennessee Department of Transportation does not have a set timetable for when the bridge for I-40 will be back in operation.
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