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Report: 14% of LA Bridges Structurally Deficient

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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A recent report indicates that 14 percent of Louisiana’s locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient, with a significant number of spans in the state approaching or having surpassed 50 years old, the ending of the intended lifespan for those structures.

Each major component of a bridge is rated on a scale of zero to nine; a score of four or below indicates poor condition. According to TRIP, the national non-profit transportation organization responsible for the report, if a bridge receives a rating of four or below for its deck, substructure or superstructure, it is labeled structurally deficient.

Bridge Report

According to The Advocate, the state of Louisiana, which has 13,000 bridges, the state owning 8,000 of them, currently faces a backlog of roughly $14 billion of road and bridge repairs; bridges account for $3.4 billion of that total.

Tiago_Fernandez / Getty Images

One bridge named, the U.S. Hwy. 190 bridge over the Mississippi River, also called the Huey P. Long Bridge or Old Mississippi River bridge, is a cantilevered steel through truss bridge that opened in 1939, and supports the passage of 20,000 cars daily.

There are 12,910 bridges in Louisiana that run 20 feet or longer; these are maintained by local and state agencies. Out of these, 14 percent (1,821 bridges) are structurally deficient, clocking in at the seventh-highest rate in the nation. While many spans are reaching 50 years old, the average age for all of the state’s bridges is 38 years old. In comparison, the average age of the structurally deficient infrastructure is 50 years old.

When a span is marked as structurally deficient, lower weight limits or outright closure can be imposed, possibly having an impact on the routes used by emergency vehicles, commercial trucks, school buses and farm equipment. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost roughly $1.9 billion to replace or rehabilitate all of the state’s poor-marked bridges.

East Baton Rouge was listed as having the highest total of structurally deficient bridges: 111 of the area’s 545 bridges scored as poor or lower. The next-closest areas in damaged-bridge percentages are Bossier, with 71 structurally deficient bridges out of 280 total, and Tangipahda with 63 out of 486.

In the greater Baton Rouge area, which has 122 structurally deficient bridges total, 419,000 vehicles are driving daily over these spans. One bridge named, the U.S. Hwy. 190 bridge over the Mississippi River, also called the Huey P. Long Bridge or Old Mississippi River bridge, is a cantilevered steel through truss bridge that opened in 1939, and supports the passage of 20,000 cars daily.

Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, told The Advocate that the information in TRIP’s report wasn’t anything new.

"It is only going to get worse," he said. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I am a realist. I cannot hope and pray these bridges get better without any intervention."

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development

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