MLK bridge repairs begin in Longview, bring some lane closures o - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

MLK bridge repairs begin in Longview, bring some lane closures on I-20


Work has begun on the Martin Luther King bridge in Longview, which has been closed since a fiery 18-wheeler crash last month.

That early morning crash occurred in the early morning hours on April 22nd, killing the passenger in the 18-wheeler.

The bridge intersects with I-20 on the south side of Longview, meaning repairs to it are causing some intermittent interstate lane closures while workers are present.

"The crash resulted in an intense fire under the bridge structure," said TXDOT Tyler District Engineer Randy Hopmann. "The 18-wheeler that ran off the road did not actually make contact with the bridge, so there was no impact damage from the bridge. The damage from the bridge is specifically from the heat of the fire."

The fire burned the concrete support columns down to their steel interiors. Those entire structures have to be replaced before the bridge can reopen to the public.

Contractors are in the first stages of making the repairs, installing shoring columns that will support the bridge during construction. The shoring columns allow workers to raise the bridge to demolish the original, damaged columns and replace them with new and permanent ones, before lowering the bridge and completing the repairs.

Last week, TXDOT executed an emergency $300,000 contract to Gibson & Associates to make the bridge repairs within 30 calendar days.

That means there will be some daily single-lane closures affecting drivers on westbound I-20 when workers are present.

"It won't be a constant closure of the lane,  just as needed," Hopmann said. "That's for the safety of the public, but also for the safety of the workers. It allows them some room to get the equipment under the bridge to do the work we hired them to do."

TXDOT also says the closure is minimally impacting drivers, adding only about three minutes to their commute.

"You have a bridge just to the west and also a bridge just to the east of this structure," Hopmann said. "So there's good circulation, even though the bridge is closed today."

TXDOT estimates that all of the repair and cleanup work will be completed by July 1st.

You can see the recommended detours around the MLK overpass here.

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