Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and various politicians visited the closed Interstate 40 bridge at Memphis today.

Plenty of talk ensued about the need for infrastructure spending and about the need for a speedy resolution to the bridge closure, which makes travel crossing the river, particularly for cross-country truck traffic, more difficult.

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In remarks to reporters, Buttigieg said it was a national issue, not just a local concern. He praised work by state agencies, city officials and others.

But no specifics came out today that advanced the update given yesterday by the Arkansas Department of Transportation on the amount of time necessary to repair a fractured box beam:

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  • We worked with consultants to conduct an in-depth inspection of the I-40 MS River Bridge that will include Ultrasonic Testing on all the welds in the main tie girder at similar locations to where the fracture occurred and on key members of the overhead truss. This highly detailed inspection is expected to take several weeks to complete.

  • The contractor for the bridge repair, Kiewit, is preparing pricing for work and fabrication of materials needed for the phase two permanent repairs. A tentative opening date for the I-40 MS River Bridge can be set after the contractor’s repairs and bridge inspection results are reviewed.

Buttigieg said delays on using the I-55 bridge had been reduced by lane marking and other steps.

Late June is expected for arrival of needed repair materials, it was announced at Buttigieg’s briefing. It will be tons of material expected to be a load of millions of pounds. Two 150-foot plates with 3,000 bolts necessary for each weigh thousands of tons.

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Installation is expected to take at least until the end of July, maybe August.

Officials also provided assurances that a reinspection of the 70-year-old I-55 bridge indicated it was sound.