Bridge over MS River cracks, 700 barges waiting

US Agriculture products are in trouble as a crack in the Hernando DeSoto bridge over I-40 in Memphis has been closed after a crack the length of the bridge was discovered in one of the steel supports underneath stopping all road and river traffic both ways. In 2020, the forty-eight-year-old bridge carried an average of 35,000 vehicles per day across the Mississippi River -more than 10,000 of which were trucks. The Tennessee Department of Transportation has not alluded to details about when the bridge can be expected to reopen to either trucks or barges.

As the world turns on a dime over cargo rates, shipping container shortages, and a quickly clogging air freight market, the shut down of this bridge, covering the most critical agriculture vein in the nation. The situation is dreadfully reminiscent of the Suez Canal blockage that captivated the world last month when the Ever Given was wedged sideways in a section of the canal that was only wide enough for ships to pass unidirectionally. That stoppage cost shippers weeks of supply chain trouble, further upset the container and equipment imbalances, and netted the insurance company a $600 million dollar fee by the Egyptian government.

Officials don’t think the bridge will remain out of commission for long, expecting most of the repairs can be done over the weekend and next week, with minimal impact. However, as with anything that clogs up our logistics market, the race to catch up, servicing a number of vessels all arriving at once instead of each as they travel with time between, will play havoc on the Port of New Orleans. Therefore, we should expect diversion to other southeastern ports to happen to alleviate that pressure.

If your cargo is barge bound waiting for the bridge repairs, we empathize with you. Your Nelson International representatives are standing by to discuss ways to move critical amounts of cargo by air or alternate ports to mitigate the delays coming for the commodities stuck. It’s our specialty to help you navigate these critical moments and circumvent the worst of the delays in whatever way we can.