Two lanes of traffic opened Dec. 1 on Sunshine Bridge
The Sunshine Bridge opened for traffic with one lane in each direction, though with limitations last weekend. Monday evening crews began installing a new replacement chord and transferring the load to the new chord from the jack system that is used to temporarily bypass the damaged chord and relieve the structure. Work will continue 24 hours a day to finish the repairs. The chord is one of the main load-carrying members and is required to ensure the safety of motorists traveling across the bridge.
"This partial opening will provide some relief to the families and businesses of the River Region," said Governor Edwards. "It is a significant milestone in the full restoration of the Sunshine Bridge. I appreciate the DOTD, consultants, contractors, and sheriffs for their aggressive approach, including 24 hour work on the repair and extended traffic control services."
The replaced chord and the bridge structure are performing as anticipated, and with two lanes remaining closed, the bridge is only half as loaded as it could be when fully open. Therefore, we must restrict width to 11 feet due to the narrowed lanes and permitted loads only up to 80,000 pounds will be allowed. Any loads outside of this restriction should continue to use previously approved detour routes. We are also setting the speed limit to 45 mph for all vehicles. The state will coordinate with the Louisiana State Police to ensure proper enforcement of the restrictions through this active construction zone.
"Last week, crews began installing concrete barriers on the westbound side in preparation to open one lane of traffic in each direction on the Sunshine Bridge," said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. "Crews have been working 24 hours a day to repair the bridge, which has allowed us the opportunity to partially open the bridge to traffic, which we attempted to do after the collision, but it was determined to be unsafe. The chord damaged by the crane has been replaced and after an initial inspection, the bridge has been deemed safe for thru traffic in a one-lane configuration."
Other repairs on the Sunshine Bridge caused by the accident will continue under thru traffic. These repairs include the replacement of damaged horizontal bracings, restoration of damaged connections between stringers and floor beams, and painting of the new chord and misc. connections. Repairs are estimated to be completed in January 2019, weather permitting. One weekend of bridge closures will be required when installing the new horizontal bracings.
Commuters are reminded to take advantage of Commuter Krewe. 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/
DOTD has also adjusted the Plaquemine ferry schedule. During the duration of the Sunshine Bridge closure, additional ferry service hours will be
• 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).
Motorists are also encouraged to use the Veterans Memorial Bridge as an alternate river crossing.
Call 511 or visit 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 DOTD