Finally, westside commuters can catch a break.
Emergency repair work on La. 1 southbound on the Intracoastal Bridge has finished a week early, the Department of Transportation and Development announced today, opening up both southbound lanes before peak traffic hits this afternoon.
The news brings a measure of relief to Intracoastal Bridge commuters, who have endured weeks of traffic backups that worsened March 19 when a dump truck hit the south side of the bridge, causing enough damage to close one southbound lane for $450,000 in emergency repairs. During the lane closure, traffic backups spilled over into I-10 westbound traffic in Baton Rouge, drawing the ire of those on the east side of the river.
But heat-straightening efforts effectively repaired the damaged girder, eliminating the need for additional repair work, DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson says in a prepared statement, allowing DOTD to complete the fix ahead of time.
“We understand the frustration that West Bank commuters have been experiencing during this emergency closure,” Wilson says. “This incident demonstrated that our infrastructure system is only as strong as its weakest link.”
Before emergency repairs were needed, northbound commuters were already dealing with backups caused by one-inch thick steel plates that essentially create speed bumps on the bridge, interrupting traffic flow. Those joint repairs will continue overnight next week, DOTD says.
Commuters can expect nighttime lane closures on the northbound side of the bridge next Monday through Friday between 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. One northbound lane will also be closed the following Saturday, April 6, at 7 p.m. until Monday, April 8 at 4 a.m.
Officials recently blamed the clogged bridge, which has an F-rating and attracts some 50,000 commuters daily, for Baton Rouge’s garbage pickup delays.