MEMPHIS — Regional transportation planners are studying a possible new bridge over the Mississippi River proposed for somewhere in the Memphis metropolitan area.
The Commercial Appeal reports that highway and rail planners from three states — Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi — plus the Federal Highway Administration are involved in the study dubbed the Southern Gateway Project.
A new bridge would be the fifth for the Memphis area. Two spans now carry highways across the Mississippi while two more carry rail lines. The study will look at possible multi-modal designs that could carry highway vehicles, trains, bicycles and pedestrians.
Plans call for identifying a preferred alternative by 2014, with a final environmental impact statement done the following year.
“Right now, we’re trying to determine the purpose and need for the project,” said Steve Chipman, project manager for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
The newest of the four current bridges, the Hernando DeSoto Bridge that links West Memphis, Ark., with downtown Memphis, via Interstate 40, was opened in 1973. The Memphis and Arkansas bridge carrying traffic on I-55 a few miles south of the downtown area was built in 1949. The Frisco and Harahan rail bridges are 119 and 95 years old, respectively.
Officials say the highway spans handle heavy traffic volumes — nearly 50,000 vehicles a day on each bridge — and don’t meet current standards.
Past estimates indicated that a new span, especially one serving rail as well as vehicles, could cost up to $1 billion.
Chipman said the study could show that a new Memphis crossing would be of national significance given the large volume of freight moving through the area.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info