Eastbound lane of I-10 bridge remains closed after fiery crash

Traffic conditions across Southwest Louisiana remained chaotic for most of the day Thursday due to a temporary Interstate 10-Calcasieu River bridge closure. The closure began on Wednesday night after an accident involving an 18-wheeler resulted in a fire late in the evening.

Two vehicles were involved in the eastbound crash, Derek Senegal, Louisiana State Police Troop D public information officer, said, with one vehicle striking the 18-wheeler causing it to become engulfed in flames.

“The fuel tanks were leaking diesel and spilled onto the roadway causing the fire,” he said.

While the accident is still being investigated by the Westlake Police Department, Senegal said it does seem that a high rate of speed likely led to the accident which also spilled onto the westbound lanes.

“Once you have a fire, you have to make sure everyone’s safe, east and westbound. That’s closing roads or whatever is needed at the time,” he said.

The accident resulted in only minor injuries, he added.

After emergency response cleared the road, the Louisiana Department of Transportation closed both sides for a complete inspection, Tammy York, DOTD public information officer, said. A complete inspection includes checking the bridge’s deck where motorists drive, concrete, steel and the substructure underneath, she said.

The Department began the inspection Wednesday night and reopened westbound lanes at about 1 p.m. and reopened the right eastbound lane at 4 p.m.

DOTD has determined that additional testing is required before reopening the left eastbound lane. The I-10 eastbound entrance ramp at La. 378 will also remain closed at this time.

“Motorists should expect congestion on the bridge while one lane remains closed,” York said.

Thursday’s traffic across Lake Charles and surrounding cities remained congested throughout the day with a 10-mile traffic jam along Interstate 210 at some points. Despite the congestion, there was “nothing out of the ordinary when dealing with the volume of traffic and there wasn’t an extreme number of crashes, Senegal said.

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