"There is no temporary fix that will allow us to safely open the bridge.”

Inspections of the Sunshine Bridge/LA 70 concluded that key load-carrying components of the bridge suffered significant damage after a crane on a barge collided with the southwest portion of the bridge on Friday, October 12. Because of the extensive damage, permanent repairs to the bridge are necessary prior to reopening it to vehicular traffic. The Department continues to find damage to the structure.

Bridge engineers are in the process of finalizing a design to execute the repairs. Once that design is finalized, successfully modeled and we have a better idea of what resources are needed and available, an estimated timeline for the repair project will be released. At this point, the potential timeline is believed to be months rather than days.

“The damage is to key members of the bridge and has rendered it unsafe to traffic,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “While we have identified a contractor and are moving forward with expediting this work, it is important to know there is not an easy fix for this kind of damage. There is no temporary fix that will allow us to safely open the bridge.”

The Department will continue to work with local law enforcement and state police to mitigate and refine traffic patterns and detour routes.

During the duration of the Sunshine Bridge closure, additional Plaquemine ferry service hours will be:

---Monday through Friday, a second boat will run from 5:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. to 7p.m.

---Saturday and Sunday, the first boat will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

---Saturday and Sunday, the second boat will run from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

When two ferries are in operation, they are scheduled to depart every 15 minutes. When there is only one, it leaves every 30 minutes (departs Plaquemine at :00 and :30, Sunshine at :15 and :45).

The possibility of reopening the White Castle ferry has been ruled out for several reasons.

There is a lengthy process to implement a new ferry route. River traffic falls under the authority of the U.S. Coast Guard and any additional traffic would require their approval. Additionally, since we no longer have property access to the former landings at White Castle, we would be required to obtain access from landowners and permission to build on the levee by the Corps of Engineers.

Motorists are also encouraged to use the Veterans Memorial Bridge as an alternate river crossing.

Call 511 or visit www.511la.org for additional travel information. Out-of-state travelers may call 1-800-ROAD-511 (1-800-762-3511). Motorists may also monitor the LA DOTD website at www.dotd.la.gov, by selecting MYDOTD, or by visiting the DOTD Facebook and Twitter pages.

Contributed by the La. Dept. of Transportation and Development