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Sunshine Bridge Enters Next Phase of Repairs

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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Earlier this month, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announced that repairs to the Sunshine Bridge, a crucial connection for St. James Parish, Louisiana, have entered the next stage.

According to DOTD, fabrication of the new diagonal bracing is now complete, along with additional work repairing cracked welds on the bridge deck. The work replaces bolts and the diagonal bracing that were damaged when the bridge was struck by a barge in October 2018.

Bridge Impact

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 from the impact, and repairs were 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.

In early November, the completion of repairs was slated for January.

Moving Forward

According to the DOTD, remaining work on the Sunshine Bridge includes painting and installation of the diagonal bracing, as well as the installation of gusset plates. Emergency repairs connected with the barge impact are slated for completion in late January or early February, though periodic lane closures are expected to continue.

“With the start of a new year, we’re eager to get the emergency repairs completed so we can move forward on the previously planned project that will make this bridge safer and will extend its life,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson. “Crews have been working hard and we’ve made significant progress, but we can’t rush the remaining repairs.”

The full bridge closure to allow for the installation of the diagonal bracing, originally scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 19-20, was delayed a week due to inclement weather.


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

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