The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has three ongoing efforts to improve mobility throughout the state in regards to bridge infrastructure. Earlier this year, Governor Edwards signed House Bill 578 into law. This bill appropriated $700 million to statewide transportation projects, with approximately $40 million allocated towards rural bridges. An additional $50 million for rural bridges was allocated from the U.S. Department of Transportation under the Highway Infrastructure Program.
DOTD has been successful in utilizing in house bridge crews throughout the state to target rural bridges in need of immediate attention. One example of a deficient bridge that the statewide crew replaced was on U.S. 80 in Webster Parish. This bridge replacement was needed in order to facilitate the movement of several industries in the region, including Fibrebond Corporation, which is based in Minden. Construction was announced in October 2019 and completed in November 2019.
The U.S. 80 westbound bridge replacement over Boone Creek in Dixie Inn was completed in approximately half the time originally scheduled, using in-house resources. The 3-span bridge was replaced with a 4-span pre-cast concrete structure, which will no longer be weight-limit posted. This factor is key in the efficient movement of goods, giving manufacturers like Fibrebond Corporation access to a heavy-haul route.
DOTD, with support from Louisiana Economic Development (LED), will also lower U.S. 80 at the I-20 overpass between Dixie Inn and Goodwill Road in order to allow custom-built loads to utilize the route with adequate overhead clearance. LED is contributing $2.5 million in Rapid Response funds to assist with fast-tracking the project, which is in development and is expected to go to bid soon. The infrastructure upgrades will accommodate vehicles transporting Fibrebond’s oversized and heavy manufactured products, along with other industries that need to utilize the heavy-haul route for their loads.