Magazine: Calcasieu River bridge one of nation’s most dangerous

By By Johnathan Manning / American Press

The Interstate 10 Calcasieu River bridge was named one of the nation’s most dangerous bridges in a recent Travel and Leisure

magazine article.

“While the arching profile of this cantilever bridge may be aesthetically pleasing, its steep grades have been cited as a

traffic concern, especially given the high volume of trucks the bridge carries along this major east-west corridor,” reads

the article, titled “America’s Most Dangerous Bridges.”

The 60-year-old I-10 bridge was No. 7 on the list, which was topped by Boston’s Storrow Drive.

Lauren Lee, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said that if the bridge were deemed

unsafe, it would be closed.

The bridges on the list see average

traffic of more than 50,000 vehicles per day, the article said. The

rankings were compiled

using 2012 Federal Highway Administration sufficiency ratings,

which judge “structural adequacy, safety, serviceability for

modern use, and essentiality to the public.”

“The resulting list reveals America’s high-traffic bridges with the worst sufficiency ratings,” the article reads.

About 66,000 vehicles per day cross the Calcasieu bridge, Lee said. The bridge has a sufficiency rating of 9.9 out of 100.

“Sufficiency ratings are used to help identify structures that qualify for rehabilitation or replacement through the Federal

Highway Administration’s Bridge Program,” Lee said in an email.

“It is important to note that just because a bridge’s sufficiency rating is low does not imply that it is unsafe. The safety

of the traveling public is the top priority of DOTD. If a bridge is deemed unsafe during an inspection, it is closed until

repairs are made.”

The Calcasieu River overpass was the only bridge in the south on the list. Most of the 19 bridges listed were in the northeast,

with six in New York, three in both Massachusetts and New Jersey and two in Connecticut.

Repairs totaling $5.7 million completed late last year “involved cleaning and ‘spot’ painting, sealing deck joints, structural

steel repairs, and inspecting and repairing finger joints,” Lee said.

A plan to replace the bridge was put on hold after ethylene dichloride from a 1994 pipeline leak was found around the bridge,

causing concerns that construction could cause the chemicals to enter Southwest Louisiana’s drinking water.

The American Press reported this week that a study of how to proceed with the bridge will last until 2016. Although there is no timeline for

construction, the study will help determine the cost and alignment of a new bridge, Lee said.

She said the I-10 bridge project envisions replacing the bridge, six-laning the Lake Charles I-10 corridor, replacing the

approaches, revamping interchanges and redesigning the Sampson Street interchange.