Memphis-Arkansas Bridge

The Memphis & Arkansas Bridge (per its nameplates), also known as the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge or Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge, is a cantilevered through truss bridge carrying Interstate 55 across the Mississippi River between West Memphis, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. Memphians refer to this bridge as the "Old Bridge" to distinguish it from the "New Bridge", or Hernando de Soto Bridge, upstream.

The Memphis & Arkansas Bridge also carries U.S. Highways 61, 64, 70 and 79 from Memphis to West Memphis; it also carried U.S. Highway 63 prior to its truncation (and later rerouting) in Arkansas. The western terminus of Tennessee State Route 1 sits on the Tennessee-Arkansas boundary halfway across the bridge.

Having been built before the introduction of the Interstate Highway System, the span was not built to Interstate Highway standards, lacking the concrete barrier between the different directions of traffic which was added later. It was also built with a sidewalk on either side of the roadway, positioned just outside the steel truss girders.

The sidewalks, now also separated from the traffic lanes by concrete barriers, are accessible from Memphis city sidewalks on the Tennessee side, but give way to grassy slopes on the shoulders of I-55 on the Arkansas side. It is for this reason that the bridge, though listed as an official part of the Mississippi River Trail, is marked as dangerous and a potential routing problem. However, despite this accessibility issue, these lanes are still often used by bicyclists, as it is unusual to have bicycle and pedestrian access on a major bridge crossing the Mississippi River.

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
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