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Nearly half of Louisiana bridges 'fair' or 'poor' according to federal statistics

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WEST BATON ROUGE- Following the crash of a dump truck into the bottom of the Intracoastal Bridge, the WBRZ Investigative Unit found nearly half of the state's 12,000 bridges have fair or poor ratings. 

According to the Federal Highway Administration in 2018, Louisiana had 12,899 bridges. A total of 6,484 were rated in good condition. But 6,411 were rated fair or poor.

LSU Engineering Professor Dr. Chao Sun said following the crash of a dump truck at the Intracoastal Bridge, there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make sure the structure is safe for the traveling public.

"Generally after this kind of accident, engineers need to go and see whether there are visible cracks, damage to the parts or something severe to the safety of the bridge," Dr. Chao Sun said.

According to the American Road and Transportation Builder's Association, Louisiana ranks 11th in the nation for the worst bridges in the country.

Louisiana Transportation Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson briefly addressed these concerns in a speech earlier this week.

"We have $14 billion in unmet needs," Dr. Shawn Wilson said. "We have 15 billion in projects I know I have to build, and a much bigger system in place that is constantly evolving."

With money being the biggest hurdle right now, Wilson said the need is not easing up and although certain projects are priorities, the money he has must be spread across the entire state.

"What also makes Louisiana unique is I have 12,000 bridges to take care of in the state," Wilson said. "For my friends in West Baton Rouge, there's only one bridge that matters to them and I have 12,000 to take care of."

Data shows nearly 14% of the state's bridges have been deemed structurally deficient. That's when one of the key elements of the bridge is in poor or worse condition. At least 50 of them are on Louisiana highways including the one on the Intracoastal that has an F rating.

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