U.S. 61 bridge opens ahead of schedule
Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 3:07:10 PM

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) will restore traffic on a temporary, concrete bridge on U.S. 61, just south of St. Francisville, today after 5 p.m.

The new bridge, which replaces the old Grant Bayou West Bridge that closed on Feb. 3 because of an embankment failure, was expected to take six to eight weeks to complete, but DOTD crews finished the job in four weeks. DOTD Secretary William Ankner congratulated the DOTD employees who restored the bridge ahead of schedule.

"I am pleased we were able to open the bridge quickly, but I remain concerned about the state of our bridges," Ankner said. "DOTD will continue its aggressive approach to bridge safety, and I will not hesitate to close any bridge in Louisiana that puts the public at risk."

Ankner also praised citizens and officials in the West Feliciana Parish area for their patience, and he vowed that the department will work closely with local and state officials to keep them informed of critical projects in their areas.

Two projects to widen U.S. 61 from Thompson Creek to Bains, scheduled to be let in April and May 2008, will replace the temporary bridge with a permanent bridge. DOTD will reuse the concrete deck segments, barrier rails and support caps from the temporary bridge for future projects. The cost of the temporary bridge is approximately $450,000.