Downtown Memphis prepares for heavy holiday traffic weekend with Grizzlies game, one bridge closed


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s Memorial Day weekend, the city has opened back up, the Grizzlies are back in the playoffs, and the busiest bridge in the Memphis area is still out of commission.

Memorial Day is traditionally one of the busiest travel days of the year. It could lead to a traffic nightmare in Memphis, but here are some tips to help you avoid it.

“We open up every temporarily closed lanes to make sure that the maximum capacity is there for any motorists trying to get to their holiday festivities,” said Nichole Lawrence with Tennessee Department of Transportation.

This year, the I-40 bridge repairs are still causing traffic pileups in downtown Memphis, and officials are expecting the city to be flooded with Beale Street patrons and Grizzlies fans.

Law enforcement plans to establish 17 “traffic control points” along downtown with the goal of avoiding back-ups.

They will not function as road blocks, Downtown Neighborhood Association officials said. Residents and workers will be able to tell police they live or work in the area and officers will let them through.

Whether you’re traveling on the highway or just visiting the downtown area. you’ll probably run into some traffic.

Officials on the Tennessee and Arkansas sides encourage the same tips: Check your routes, and prepare before you leave the house.

“The best advice that we can give anyone traveling, especially on a holiday weekend is really, plan ahead,” Lawrence said.

As of Friday afternoon, Google Maps showed travel time across the bridge from the FedExForum in Memphis to Southland Casino in West Memphis at 38 minutes. Coming back the other direction, however, was only a 17-minute trip.

TDOT partners with Waze to offer a SmartMap feature for anywhere in Tennessee.

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