• ITVI.USA
    15,389.070
    -185.800
    -1.2%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.916
    -0.001
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.920
    0.140
    0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,369.850
    -194.390
    -1.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.920
    -0.040
    -1.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.680
    -0.030
    -0.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.290
    -0.060
    -4.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.620
    -0.020
    -0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.420
    0.100
    4.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.170
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    128.000
    2.000
    1.6%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,389.070
    -185.800
    -1.2%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.916
    -0.001
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.920
    0.140
    0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,369.850
    -194.390
    -1.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.920
    -0.040
    -1.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.680
    -0.030
    -0.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.290
    -0.060
    -4.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.620
    -0.020
    -0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.420
    0.100
    4.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.170
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    128.000
    2.000
    1.6%
InsightsLogistics/Supply ChainsMaritimeNewsWeather and Critical Events

Vessel traffic flowing again on Mississippi River under I-40

Bridge remains closed to vehicles after inspectors found crack in beam

The Coast Guard reopened the Mississippi River to all vessel traffic near Memphis Friday morning. The shutdown of a part of the waterway had disrupted shipments of corn, soybeans and other commodities, causing a backlog of more than 1,000 barges.

Traffic was stopped Tuesday after transportation officials found of a beam fracture in the Interstate 40 bridge (Hernando DeSoto Bridge) that connects Arkansas and Tennessee.


Related: Crack in I-40 bridge shuts down traffic between Tennessee, Arkansas


“Based on information provided to us by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Coast Guard has determined that transit under the I-40 bridge is safe for maritime traffic,” Coast Guard Capt. Ryan Rhodes, captain of the Port of Memphis, said in a news release Friday. “We appreciate the cooperative efforts of both the Tennessee and Arkansas departments of transportation, as well as maritime port partners, to ensure the safety of our waterway.”

The reopening will begin to ease a jam of 62 vessels, with a total of 1,058 barges that were waiting to pass through the closed area, according to the Coast Guard.

Almost all grain barges must pass under the de Soto bridge on their way to Gulf of Mexico export facilities near New Orleans after being loaded along the upper Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri rivers.

The closure of the river to traffic for almost four days sent grain markets nosediving Thursday. Industry experts attribute at least a portion of the volatility to this supply chain disruption.

“We’ve got really tight supplies already. We got very strong demand,” Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, explained to FreightWaves. “Then, when all of a sudden you basically put a kink in the hose, you can no longer effectively meet demand. That’s going to have a depressive effect on the value of the commodities.”

Even though it could take at least two days for the backlog to clear, Steenhoek said it could have been worse. However, he believes there’s a lot of work to be done to improve the country’s bridges and hopefully reduce these disruptions.

“I routinely express how the United States can increasingly be described as a spending nation, not an investing nation. There is a big difference between the two,” Steenhoek added. “As we move forward, it is my hope that this situation will further galvanize efforts to produce a comprehensive infrastructure investment strategy that addresses the needs of both urban and rural America.”

During the course of their investigation, Arkansas Department of Transportation inspectors found earlier evidence of damage on the bridge. They are now investigating to see if the damage was noted in previous reports and what actions were taken. As of Friday afternoon, the de Soto bridge was still closed to vehicular traffic.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his nearly 20 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.

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