Confusing signage leading drivers astray along Baringer Foreman Road; bridge closed indefinitely
BATON ROUGE - A bridge along a popular shortcut between Highland Road and Airline Highway is closed, and the confusing signage has some drivers taking an unexpected turn.
Dozens of drivers were forced to make a U-turn on Baringer Foreman Road once they discovered the bridge over Ward's Creek was closed due to structural damage.
"It's nonstop," said Jon Thorning, who works in the area.
Some signs say 'Road closed' while others say 'Bridge closed.' Director of Transportation and Drainage for the EBR City-Parish, Fred Raiford, says he's planning to make the signage more direct and add lighting to the barricades on the road, as this closure will last up to 12 months.
"Some of the businesses and homeowners in there didn't know if it was the road closed or the bridge," Raiford said.
Thorning and Raiford, among others, believe the inconvenience and confusion could have all been avoided if the debris along Ward's Creek was picked up before inclement weather last week. As part of an ongoing drainage project between the EBR City-Parish and the Army Corps of Engineers, crews cleared and snagged the channel and piled up hundreds of trees.
"What we're being told is that trees caused this damage but all of those trees could have been picked up in a proper timing," Thorning said.
"There was a lot of tree debris that got bundled up along the bridge structure and created some of the damage to the under structure of the bridge," Raiford said, before doubling back. "I don't know if it was a barge or the tree debris."
Before the heavy downpour on the night of Nov. 30, Raiford says he sent an email to the Corps of Engineers, concerned about the debris piles near the bridge.
"They responded back and they did do some work but apparently it wasn't enough to get the major debris out of the way," Raiford said.
The damage to the support beams underneath the bridge is significant, but more inspections need to take place before the extent of the damage is known and a timeline can be determined. For now, Raiford guesses the bridge could be closed for up to 12 months.
Residents and business owners along that route can expect a letter from the city-parish with more details in the coming days. An official estimate regarding the costs and timeline will be provided sometime after the holidays.
Raiford added that the city-parish department of transportation is working diligently to fix the damage as soon as possible.
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