PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - There is a long road ahead for commercial truck drivers who use the Hwy. 1 Bridge in Port Allen. The state has lowered the weight restriction on the bridge while they make emergency repairs.
An estimated 55,000 vehicles travel over the Intracoastal waterway each day. Most of them are commercial trucks making deliveries to construction sites, the port, and big box stores. It has been a major connector since the 1960s, but on Friday, some drivers carrying heavy loads were turned around.
"It's very inconvenient, very inconvenient today," said commercial truck driver, Daryl Deemer.
Truckers were stopped by Louisiana State Police Weights and Standards officers waiting on both sides of the bridge. Frank Rivere was also stopped. "The only thing he said was I cannot go over the bridge while I'm loaded," said Rivere.
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) secretary, Shawn Wilson, says the decision was made to put restrictions on the bridge Thursday, March 30 when inspectors noticed cracks in some critical areas. "It's a total inconvenience, and it's nothing that's been planned," said Wilson.
He says repairs are underway, but until they are made, trucks weighing between 15 to 25 tons will not be allowed to cross. He says police who are trained to eyeball overweight trucks will monitor the bridge around the clock. They will also have mobile scales.
"Let's take one of the soda trucks that's going to be delivering sodas to Walmart. Loaded, that truck would be above the weight, which means they would have to take a detour if it's a loaded vehicle. Once it's been emptied, it d rops below that weight," said Wilson.
Until then, drivers with full loads are being asked to take a detour to the Sunshine Bridge in Convent. For truck driver, Frank Rivere, who is on his way back to Houston, that's a long way to go.
"It probably adds a couple of hours to my trip," said Rivere.
As for how long trucker drivers can expect to take the scenic route, Wilson estimates around two months. "Much like an old home, you don't know what you're going to find when you pull the carpet up. We are confident we found critical conditions that are being addressed, and if there are other issues, we will have to address those as well," said Wilson.
The repairs are expected to cost anywhere from $2 to $3 million.