BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The thought of flashing lights and heavy traffic on a bridge wouldn’t normally be music to a driver’s ears.
“It was like a breath of fresh air,” says Tyler McKinnis. “ We finally get to take our way, our normal way home.”
But when you have been taking the long way to work for almost two months now, traffic on the Sunshine Bridge is acceptable.
“We had to go all the way around, basically around the word just to get to work,” McKinnis says. “We had to deal with that 5 o'clock traffic, rush hour. It really impacted us a lot.”
The Louisiana Department of Transportation opened one lane in each direction Saturday morning. Crews have been working overtime to fix the damage. The bridge was damaged in mid-October.
Those that use the bridge every day to get to work say their drive time has heightened, “I went from 1 hour and 20 minutes to 2 hours and 34 minutes to get to work,” McKinns says. “We are talking bumper to bumper.”
Officials say crews installed a replacement chord last week, deeming the bridge safe for travel. Just a few miles away from the bridge sits Donaldsonville and Mayor Leroy Sullivan is reminding everyone to continue to be patient as crews finish the project.
“I think people would be willing to sacrifice staying in traffic here in Donaldsonville than having to travel to St. James Parish and getting bogged down in the traffic," the mayor says.
Mayor Sullivan adds despite dealing with the minor delays, Donaldsonville seemed to fare well in the end, “People only went the long way if it was necessary, so it made more people stay home and shop. So there was some good that came out of it also,” the mayor says.
Repairs are expected to be fully complete in January 2019.