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LA Bridge Repairs Get Completion Date

Thursday, November 8, 2018

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Nearly a month after a barge-mounted crane struck the Sunshine Bridge, a crucial connection for St. James Parish, Louisiana, repairs are well underway, with a completion date slated for January.  

A jacking system is currently in place to help realign the bridge, and according to Shawn Wilson, secretary of the state Department of Transportation and Development, crews of roughly 10 people are working around the clock.

What Happened

On Oct. 12, a barge-mounted crane struck the metal cantilever truss bridge, which runs across the Mississippi River. Reports allege that the crane was in the upright position, violating the river’s safety rules. Key load-bearing components along the southwest side of the bridge suffered significant damage due to the impact, and repairs were now slated to take months, rather than days. Marquette Transportation was operating the tugboat, named Kristine Alexis.

The mile-and-a-half-long bridge is a vital connection for locals; in 2015, the Sunshine Bridge carried 23,000 vehicles a day. According to Bridgehunter, the Sunshine Bridge was built in 1963, opened in 1964 and is now eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Marquette, the company responsible for operating the barge, has reportedly been involved in 27 other bridge accidents within the past five years. (Five of the 27 allision incidents were considered by the Coast Guard to be “serious;” these incidents cost hundreds of thousands in damage to vessels, bridges and other structures.)

A lawsuit regarding the incident has also been filed, alleging that the companies involved in the incident acted with negligence.

Bridge Repairs

Workers have also finished installing the primary work platform under the Mississippi River bridge, and others were going to be built last weekend. DOTD officials noted that they will have to replace a damaged section of the steel beam that is located on the bottom of the supporting metal cage, which surrounds the structure’s road deck. The beam once carried 1.7 million pounds of stress, but after the impact, the stress was reallocated elsewhere along the bridge and the beam itself was pushed 4 inches out of alignment.

Cooper Consolidated, the owner of the crane that was being moved, noted that the crane’s boom was down and in its cradle at the time of the impact, and that Cooper did not have any staff on board when the incident occurred.

“With repairs to the Sunshine Bridge well underway, we’re looking forward to keeping the momentum moving forward,” said Wilson. “We have plenty of work to do and all parties involved are working to expedite the repairs.”

The bridge is expected to be jacked back into alignment somewhere in mid- to late November. While this work is being completed, others will be using heat to straighten the remaining beam, as well as replacing the beam that was damaged. Upon the completion of repairs, the DOTD will inspect the bridge before it reopens.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair

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