Sunshine Bridge partially reopens
DONALDSONVILLE - The Department of Transportation and Development opened one lane direction of the Sunshine Bridge Saturday.
According to DOTD, traffic will be allowed to pass through two lanes across the bridge starting at 7 a.m. Saturday. Two lanes will be open allowing vehicles to pass in each direction. Drivers should expect the lanes to be narrow due to the ongoing work, and some oversized loads will not be allowed to cross.
DOTD previously said it hoped to use the westbound span of the bridge for single-lane crossings in each direction. The state revealed its plans to have traffic cross in such a way starting Dec. 1, more than a month-and-a-half after a barge hauling a crane crashed into the bridge.
"The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development anticipates that on December 1, the Sunshine Bridge will be open for traffic with one lane in each direction, though there will be limitations," the state said in a statement.
Full repairs will still take about a month, with an anticipated total re-opening of the bridge in January.
Engineers said the initial opening this weekend is safe because of how they were able to re-direct weight to other parts of the bridge support structure.
"Monday evening crews began installing a new replacement chord and transferring the load to the new chord from the jack system that is used to temporarily bypass the damaged chord and relieve the structure," engineers said in the statement.
The chord is one of the main load-carrying members and is required to ensure the safety of motorists traveling across the bridge.
Work will continue 24 hours a day to finish the repairs.
Restrictions will be in place Saturday. Vehicles can only be 11 feet wide due to the narrowed lanes and permitted loads only up to 80,000 pounds will be allowed. The state will coordinate with the Louisiana State Police to ensure proper enforcement of the restrictions.
Temporary concrete barriers will split the travel lanes.