Damaged Denham Springs bridge could reopen by end of year

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

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Just past Denham Springs High School is a cemetery. Behind that cemetery on N River Rd. is a bridge that's been shut down since the August 2016 flood damaged it.

"There were already some weight limits on the bridge because of some structure issues that we were concerned about, but once the flood came and the water and debris damaged the bridge further, the inspector said, 'You have to close it and you have to close it immediately,'" said Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks.

Beneath the bridge is damaged timber, which is part of the reason it's not safe to driver over why the bridge was shut down.

There are numerous other wooden bridges in Louisiana. With more than 13 percent of the state's 12,000 bridges in rough shape, Louisiana ranks higher than the national average. As far as a report card on the state's bridges, Louisiana earned a D+ in 2017.

The bridge in Denham Springs is just one example. Residents have been wondering why it's taking so long to get the bridge fixed.

Ricks says initially, the parish was going to pick up the tab, but then the flood made them consider FEMA and federal dollars to fund the project, and when dealing with the federal government, issues tend to move at a slower pace. Now, the federal highway system will cover the cost.

"The good news is the project is approved. The funding is going to be actually lower than we anticipated, so the funding is approved. We're just going through the comment stage now," said Ricks.

Compared with trying to find up to $400,000 to fix the bridge, the parish will now only have to match 20 percent of what the federal government's total will be for the project.

Ricks asks for everyone's patience and says although the bridge is still shutdown, there is work going on behind the scenes. Ricks could not say when the project will begin, but he's hoping the bridge will be fixed and open by the end of 2017.

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