• Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

Memphis I-40 bridge closure impacting St. Jude families commute


MEMPHIS, Tenn- Once a crack was discovered in the 1-40 Hernando De Soto Memphis bridge, causing it to close, many people who frequent that commute were left shocked.


Suzie Woodring knows the commute from Paragould to Memphis very well.


She commutes it at least once a week because her daughter is a St. Jude patient. The closure of the bridge is something she won’t forget.


An emergency. That was Woodring's first thought when a crack in the bridge was discovered.


“It’s always kinda in the back of your mind with a St. Jude patient kiddo. That if something happens- if they pop a fever, then you go into emergency mode. Well, now if I’m having to go across the bridge at a random time in the afternoon, I don’t have an additional 15, 30 45 minutes to wait. We need to get there now,” she says.


Woodring and her daughter, Lora, were on their way to St. Jude on Tuesday, May 11, when her phone re-routed them. At first, leaving the mother and daughter puzzled.


“All of a sudden, my GPS said ‘extra 45 minutes. What’s going on?’ Because you know when we get to the [I] 40 split it’s five to seven minutes,” she says.


Woodring was shocked when she found out the reason for the closure.


St. Jude sits right off the 1-40 bridge exit making their commute quick.


But once the bridge was closed, all traffic was diverted to the older 1-55 bridge. Leaving, ARDOT and TDOT rushing to make repairs and impacting states on both sides of the Mississippi River.


She says being prepared is the biggest part of it.


“You don’t think it’s going to be that big of an inconvenience until you’re affected by it. It’s something that the other patient's families and I share. Is just kind of talking about it, share tips and tricks.”


Woodring tells people to allow an extra 45 minutes to get over the bridge.


They now leave their home three hours before Lora’s doctor appointments.


The young girl was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2020 and has been receiving treatment at St. Jude.

Woodring considered staying in a Memphis hotel due to the closure but says they look forward to the bridge reopening.


“It will be nice to have the ‘old way’ to go again. Like I said, as soon as you kinda get on that 40 split, you know it's about five or seven minutes till you’re there and, you’re kinda relieved you’re there. Safe.”

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