"This happened because of negligence by a repeat offender and DOTD is cooperating fully with the investigation."

Gov. John Bel Edwards, Dept. of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Sec. Shawn Wilson and elected officials surveyed damage to the Sunshine Bridge as repair work began. Crews will be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to replace a critical, load-bearing member and several other components of the bridge. The impact of the barge crane collision on October 12, 2018 knocked the bridge out of place and did significant damage. As a result, a new jacking system will be installed to realign the bridge approximately four inches to its original position and the damaged section of the lower chord will be replaced.

Click here to see pictures of the governor's tour.

“I know that having this bridge out of commission has impacted thousands of citizens and businesses, but the good news is that the repair work has started, “said Gov. Edwards. “Seeing the damage up close gives you a true picture of just how extensive it really is. We understand the hardship being caused by this bridge closure, and we’re working with our partners to get it reopened as quickly as possible and have the traffic flow as smoothly as possible under these very difficult circumstances. This happened because of negligence by a repeat offender and DOTD is cooperating fully with the investigation. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone who normally uses the bridge to take advantage of the resources available to find alternate routes.”

Gov. Edwards has signed an executive order to relieve the hourly restriction for drivers coming to or departing from the region.

“We’re pleased to be able to get started with these repairs,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “It’s our responsibility to maintain the safety of the traveling public, and these repairs will ensure that the bridge will be ready for traffic once again. We appreciate everybody’s patience while work is underway.”

At this time, repairs are estimated to be completed by January 2019. Before reopening, DOTD will give the bridge a thorough inspection to ensure that it’s safe for the traveling public.

Motorists are also encouraged to use the Veterans Memorial Bridge as an alternate river crossing. In addition, DOTD has posted several options for motorists while the bridge is closed. The Commuter Krewe website offers a ride-matching database to help commuters find others who live and work nearby to share rides. Go to https://www.commuterkrewe.la/ and sign up. Commuter Krewe is a joint effort of DOTD and the Capital Region Planning Commission. Check out the Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/CommuterKrewe/

The expanded schedule for the Plaquemine ferry is as follows:

---Monday through Friday, the first boat will run from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

---Monday through Friday, the second boat will run from 5:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.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).

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 http://www.dotd.la.gov/, by selecting MYDOTD, or by visiting the DOTD Facebook and Twitter pages.

Contributed by the Office of the Governor