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Workers find crack in Sunshine Bridge; road partially closed until further notice

1 month 2 weeks 2 days ago Thursday, August 18 2022 Aug 18, 2022 August 18, 2022 1:16 PM August 18, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

ST. JAMES PARISH - The Sunshine Bridge was partially closed Thursday afternoon after a crack was found in one of the bridge's supports. 

The Louisiana Department of Transportation said the crack was found on one of the bridge's 168 "vertical structural members." DOTD said the bridge is still safe to cross, but the right westbound lane will remain closed until repairs can be made.

The crack was discovered during a routine inspection, according to transportation officials.

“If this bridge is open, it's safe. We close bridges when they are not safe. That's why we have a highly trained inspection team that makes these decisions,” DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett said.

Back in 2018, the Sunshine Bridge was closed for about three months after a barge crashed into it causing major damage. The bridge was also briefly closed in 2019 after a barge struck the base of the structure. 

“They had a boom up on part of their equipment on the bridge, and it hit the Sunshine Bridge, and it had to be closed for a while to make repairs. Now, this one we just found, so we're going to have to do some investigating and monitoring before we can determine the cause,” Mallett said.

Read the full statement from DOTD below. 

"The westbound right lane on the Sunshine Bridge (LA 70) in St. James Parish is closed due to a significant crack in one of the 168 vertical structural members. DOTD staff discovered the recently developed crack during a planned, routine inspection of the bridge.

The bridge is safe for the traveling public to cross. The lane closure is in place out of an abundance of caution until the repairs can be made. No permitted loads (trucks that need a permit from DOTD) will be able to use the bridge until the repairs are in place.

The repair schedule is still under development and will be released as soon as it is finalized. Once the materials are in place, there should be a quick turnaround on the repair. Until the repairs are made, DOTD inspectors will regularly monitor this location as the already-scheduled bridge inspection continues. If the bridge becomes unsafe for motorists, it will be shut down immediately.

“This is a perfect example of why we inspect our bridges on a regular basis,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “The safety of the traveling public is the department’s No. 1 goal. Lane closures for bridge inspections and closing bridges entirely because of safety reasons can be an inconvenience, I know, but it beats the alternative of having people driving in unsafe conditions.”

DOTD appreciates your patience and reminds you to please drive with caution through construction sites, and be on the lookout for work crews and their equipment."

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