Posted: Apr 16, 2014 9:52 PM by Ryan Naquin
Updated: Apr 16, 2014 9:52 PM
DONALDSONVILLE - Structural repairs to the Sunshine Bridge are creating long commutes and no room for error for drivers.
Since February, the bridge has been down to one lane in each direction and with a 13-and-a-half feet height limit.
Tuesday, an 18-wheeler clipped the overhead metal barrier, which caused parts and cables to come crashing to the ground and stopping traffic for more than an hour.
It is a chance people who use the bridge have to live with everyday.
"I get off at three o'clock and it takes me two hours to just get home," plant worker Gregory Chatman said. "It's jammed packed. It's tight."
St. James Sheriff Willy Martin believes the $25.1 million project could lead to more accidents.
"I don't know what the purpose is for the 13'6'.' I don't know if it could be 14'6''. Obviously, I'm concerned about this happening again," Martin said. "If we have emergencies when we really need to move traffic through there, get an ambulance through there, police officers through there, we are concerned about that."
The state Department of Transportation does not have any plans to raise the height barrier. The agency and Louisiana State Police blame the accident on the driver who went out of his route and crossed the bridge when he should not have. Troopers cited the driver.
"We never want to close a roadway. We never want to close a bridge, but public safety is our number one concern," Trooper Jared Sandifer said. "If we are made aware of a situation where people might be placed in danger, we are going to close that road and we are going to open it in a safe manner."
Martin believes things will get worse before they get better.
Industrial plants near by will soon have turn arounds, which will put even more cars on the bridge.
"You might want to thought about your route going the Gramercy bridge. We'll do whatever we can to alleviate the problem. But it's going to be here for a while until that construction is complete," Martin said.
The construction is to be completed by late summer 2015.