- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Transportation officials are considering whether to temporarily close the heavily-traveled Interstate 55 bridge connecting Tennessee and Arkansas during construction of a new interchange in Memphis.

Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nichole Lawrence said Thursday that a decision will be made once the department vets its options of whether to close or partially close the bridge while the I-55 Crump Interchange is being built. The department will conduct public meetings on the issue before a decision is made.

A contract for the interchange project will be awarded next year. Officials say the current interchange is structurally deficient and creates multiple safety problems, and the new one is expected to reduce traffic congestion and the number of crashes.

The I-55 bridge is one of two spans that connect Memphis with West Memphis, Arkansas, across the Mississippi River. The other one is the Interstate 40 bridge located just north of the I-55 bridge.

Officials say more than 55,000 cars, trucks and tractor-trailers use the I-55 bridge each day. I-55 links Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans.

Memphis-based FedEx, whose trucks regularly use the bridge, said it is closely monitoring the issue.

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