Outrage grows as metal plates on Intracoastal Bridge bring traffic to a crawl
PORT ALLEN - West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Ken Albarez said Wednesday their office has been flooded with complaints from frustrated drivers demanding relief from the congestion on the Intracoastal Canal Bridge.
Albarez said he believes DOTD is doing the best it can in an emergency situation with a bridge already notorious for heavy traffic.
He said traffic would move more quickly over the bridge if motorists drove the posted speed limit of 45 miles-per-hour. Albarez said the beveled metal plates will not damage vehicles.
"Most people are going about two miles-per-hour," said Albarez.
For several weeks now DOTD has been replacing 57 extension joints on the aging bridge to extend its life. Underneath the plates are four-foot gaps in the roadway.
Albarez said besides installing metal plates on the bridge, the other option would be to close one lane at a time. He said that would delay traffic even longer.
"That would have been twice the wait," he said.
Albarez said he has spoken to DOTD officials about the project and they hope to have the northbound lanes repaired by the end of the weekend. Next, they will put the metal plates on the southbound lanes to replace joints there. The whole project is expected to be completed by early summer.
Albarez said DOTD's office overseeing the project is in West Baton Rouge Parish with several of their workers also dealing with the long delays.
"Many of their employees actually live on this side of the river as well. So, they hear it, they see it, they're experiencing it as well," said Albarez.
He said West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes also has to travel across the bridge daily between his office and home.
Albarez said the emergency repairs highlights the need for two new bridges across the Intracoastal Canal: one to replace the aging LA-1 structure, and another at Highway 415.