DOTD celebrates official opening of new Ouachita River Bridge in Catahoula Parish
Friday, August 18, 2017 at 4:20:00 PM

DOTD celebrates official opening of new Ouachita River Bridge in Catahoula Parish

Harrisonburg, La. - Today, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson celebrated the official opening of the new Ouachita River Bridge in Harrisonburg, Catahoula Parish.

The $37 million dollar project encompassed the replacement and eventual removal of the old Ouachita River Bridge on LA 8 that serves Harrisonburg and surrounding communities. The new bridge was officially opened to traffic on July 11, 2017.

“The old Ouachita River Bridge was just one example of the much-needed bridge replacement projects that exist across the state of Louisiana,” said Dr. Wilson. “Considering the bridge challenges that lay ahead for Louisiana, it’s a good example of what we can accomplish when we get serious about investing in infrastructure.”

The contract was awarded to Gilchrist Construction Company in late 2013, and work began in 2014 to replace the original bridge, which was built in 1932, and serves approximately 3,000 vehicles a day.

“We’re glad to welcome this new bridge to our city,” Harrisonburg Mayor Michael Tubre said. “It’s been a long time coming and we also thank the contractor Gilchrist Construction for working so well with our community during this process.”

Also known as the Long-Allen Bridge, the old structure was one of four in the state named for two former Louisiana governors – Huey P. Long and Oscar K. Allen. Its age meant that it required continual maintenance as a result of wear and tear from marine and vehicle traffic over the course of its eight decades in service.

Its low clearance also required it to be opened 15 to 20 times a month to accommodate marine traffic, which interrupted motor vehicle traffic flow through the area.

In contrast - at 79 feet - the new bridge’s clearance over the Ouachita River is nearly double that of the old structure at pool stage. The more than 3,200 foot-long bridge has no load restrictions, two 12-foot lanes and two 10-foot shoulders.

The bridge was the subject of research by the Louisiana Transportation Research Center that investigated how to best build the new structure with improved overall performance and prolong the life of the concrete deck.

“This is a landmark time for the parish and the state,” said Catahoula Parish Sheriff Toney Edwards. “The old bridge served its purpose over its lifetime, and we now thank the state for working to provide this new Ouachita River Bridge for our citizens.”

Also during the ceremony, the new Ouachita River Bridge was officially designated as the Veterans Memorial Bridge, as per House Concurrent Resolutions 227 & 228 passed during the 2008 Regular Legislative Session. Those were authored by then-State Rep. Noble Ellington (R-Winnsboro) and Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia).

Signs to mark that designation have been posted on the bridge. The goal of the resolutions was to commemorate the extraordinary sacrifices of the courageous men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as to encourage patriotism among all citizens.

“I can’t think of a more deserving group of men and women than our veterans to be on the receiving end of this bridge dedication,” Sheriff Edwards said.

“DOTD proudly celebrates this occasion and the dedication of this infrastructure as Veteran's Memorial Bridge,” added Dr. Wilson. “I believe this bridge will stand as strong for our citizens and economy as our veterans stood for our country.”