July 24 - More than two weeks ahead of schedule, the On the Greaux team that is widening Interstate 10 in East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes re-opened the Bluff Road bridge to traffic on Tuesday to the delight of residents who have been using a long detour since the bridge was closed on May 29.
“I want to thank the citizens and public officials of Ascension Parish for their patience while we brought this bridge up to standards,” said DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson. “We said we would finish the work before school starts in Ascension Parish, and I’m pleased to announce we beat that deadline.”
The bridge, which crosses over I-10 near Bayou Manchac, had to be closed to replace a damaged girder and so construction crews could raise the bridge 9.5 inches. Federal interstate standards required raising the bridge because I-10 is being widened from four lanes to six lanes.
Bluff Road, or La. 928, stretches about 5 miles in northern Ascension Parish from Old Perkins Road to La. 74. It is a main route from Prairieville to Dutchtown. Secretary Wilson had pledged to re-open the bridge by August 8, when the public schools in Ascension Parish opened for the 2018-19 school year.
The On the Greaux crew beat the deadline by working day and night to expedite the extensive repairs, including replacement of the 40-ton concrete bridge girder that had been hit by a truck. You can watch a video of the impressive nighttime girder replacement operation here.
Crews re-striped the bridge on Tuesday morning and finished some clean-up work to prepare for reopening. An inspection team did a final walk-through on the bridge in the afternoon and opened it to traffic at around 2:30 p.m. Crews will take down the detour signs on Wednesday.
The three-way stop signs on Bluff Road at C. Braud Road will remain in place, at least through the first few weeks of August. Secretary Wilson said he wants engineers to study the traffic patterns to see if the signs are improving safety. If the signs are helping to keep Bluff Road safer, DOTD will consider making the signs permanent.
Work continues beneath the Bluff Road bridge, but Secretary Wilson said that work does not affect traffic on the bridge.
“Most of us don’t think about our infrastructure that much until something goes wrong, such as a bridge going out or traffic congestion affecting our commutes,” he said. “The inconvenience the people of Prairieville and Dutchtown had to endure was temporary, and I’m glad that inconvenience is over. But all across Louisiana, problems with aging infrastructure, a lack of connectivity in communities and big-city traffic problems are making people more aware of the need to invest in building and maintaining our transportation system.”