Bluff Rd bridge to close this summer

Halen Doughty
Detour route for Bluff Rd bridge closure

The Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) held a public meeting to discuss the I-10 widening project and subsequent closing of the Bluff Rd. bridge. The meeting was held on Thursday, April 26, at Dutchtown High School, where residents got answers to their questions about the timeline for the project and the detour route during the bridge closure.

Rodney Mallett with DOTD said the I-10 project will be completed in two phases. Stage one of the construction runs from Highland Road to the treeline on I-10, while the second phase will finish up the project from the treeline to LA 73. Phase one is slated to be complete by the beginning of next year, while the second phase should wrap up the following year.

Part of the project includes repairing the Bluff Rd. bridge. Mallett said the bridge will be closed the day after school lets out, and it will reopen before school begins in the fall. He said the old bridge does not meet the new height requirements, which has resulted in trucks hitting it.

"That bridge was built in the 60s, and the specifications for that bridge called for 15 feet 9 inches back in the day. Now it's got to be 16 feet 6 inches," said Mallett. "It's damaged. It's been hit because it's too low. So we're going to repair the damage, and while we're doing that we're going to go ahead and jack the bridge up so it meets the new standards."

That means the bridge will be entirely out of commission for a few months. Drivers who use this bridge will have to detour down LA 74. Mallett said they're trying to minimize the traffic disruption by planning ahead and making drivers aware of the closure.

"It's inconvenient, and we understand that, but we're trying to minimize the inconvenience by doing it when school is out," said Mallett. "We're also trying to make it safer so we don't have a situation where somebody comes by and hits it."

With the construction ongoing on both the interstate and surface roads for some time, drivers should exercise caution while traveling through construction zones. The lanes shift through the construction zone, and the speed limit drops from a 70 mph zone to a 60 mph zone. Mallet said the main thing motorists should do in any construction zone is pay attention.

"Put the phone down, concentrate, wear your seatbelt, don't drive impaired, and obey the signs," said Mallett. "The speed limit is dropped because the shoulder is narrow and the lanes shift. It's the speed limit because it's a safer limit."

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