Bridge inspections underway across south Louisiana after flood - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Bridge inspections underway across south Louisiana after flood

Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB

Homes weren't the only structures to take a hit during the flooding. The thousands of bridges that connect the roads and towns over bayous, rivers and streams are not immune to the forces of a flood, no matter how long they've stood. 

"We've had a few bridges, like just yesterday, that got shut down because the water finally dropped back down to the normal level and the embankment caved in," said David Miller, chief maintenance engineer with the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). 

Even before the rain stopped and the historic floodwaters ebbed, state bridge inspectors with DOTD were out examining thousands of bridges for damage. The inspections are done up to three different times as the water levels drop. 

Miller explained that the rushing water can cause a lot of problems, including washing out the soil around pilings. With that in mind, inspectors are focused on the bridges’ bases.

Inspectors measure how deep the water channel is under the bridge to see how much, if any, of the riverbed has been eroded. They also check for physical signs of damage. 

"They're looking for anything structural that may have been damaged. Sometimes you can have a lot of drift on a bridge and that can cause pilings to break because of the water pressure," Miller said. 

Around 45 inspectors, working in two-man crews, have conducted more than 3,700 inspections over two weeks from Lafayette to Hammond. From that, only 10 bridges had to be closed.

State crews have already made repairs to two of those bridges, leaving eight still closed and waiting be fixed. 

Miller said they are working to finalize emergency contracts for repairs now and expects those repairs to finish in about a month and half once they begin. The engineer also explained that the money for repairs comes out of an emergency fund, which should be reimbursed by the federal government. 

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