DOTD lifts Intracoastal load limit

Andrew Green
The load limit of 15-25 tons was completely lifted Wednesday, May 17, 50 days after construction began.

Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announced Wednesday that the load limit for the northbound lanes of the LA 1 Intracoastal Waterway Bridge has been lifted, according to a DOTD press release.  The southbound load limit was lifted Monday, May 1.

The lowered load limit was announced Thursday, March 30 after inspectors found deficiencies on the bridge.  Structural damage was found on steel angle plates which are used to connect beams and girders to caps on the bridge, DOTD representatives said.  The estimated completion time was about two months.

“I’m thankful to all who worked tirelessly to get this bridge repaired in such a timely manner and to the bridge inspection team that discovered the deficiencies,” said Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development. “Safety and economic development are both top concerns for the department.”

The lowered limit was posted for just 50 days while contractor, C.E.C. out of Lafayette worked 11 hour shifts seven days a week to replace 672 angle plates that fasten the bridge floor beams to the lower support structure.

Officials with Louisiana State Police assisted with the load limit changes on the Intracoastal Waterway, along with LSP Weight Enforcement Officers stationed near each entrance ramp to the bridge.

Vehicles above the lowered limit were advised to cross the Mississippi River on the Sunshine bridge near Donaldsonville.

“The department had to lower the weight limits on the Intracoastal Bridge to protect travelers because heavy loads would have further damaged the angle plates,” Wilson added.  “However, when this bridge was load posted it caused commercial vehicles to take a lengthy alternate route. I appreciate the businesses and industries in the area for being patient while the repairs were conducted and our partners at Louisiana State Police for their assistance.”

According to the DOTD release, painting of the angle plates will continue, but will not affect the load posting.  Painting is expected to be complete within the next two to three weeks.

The LA 1 Intracoastal Waterway Bridge was built in 1960 and has an average daily traffic count of approximately 48,000. Replacement of the structure is currently scheduled for 2020 pending available funding at a cost of $120 million.