Southwest Louisiana bridges becoming more of a problem

Jeff Davis Parish Bridges

Twice a year the Department of Transportation and Development surveys bridges in each parish. The results, including needed improvements are then sent to the parishes.

The DOTD gave the Jeff Davis parish police jury the ability to select three bridges from across the parish to be replaced. Any bridge could have been selected, including ones that may be closed.

Of the three selected, none are closed but two are labeled as critical.

They will be replaced under the Federal Off-System Bridge Replacement Program. They are the Mouton Road Bridge between Roanoke and Lake Arthur, the Abell Road Bridge west of Welsh and the West Division Bridge where it dead ends into Touchet Road.

"There are deficient bridges in every parish and there are far more than this in Jeff Davis," said Steve Jiles, Administrator for LA DOTD District 7.  "It's just that the jury apparently, for whatever reason, selected these three based on their criteria."

Two of the selected bridges are labeled as critical according to the DOTD. They survey each of the five surrounding parishes twice a year.

"What we try to do is identify the critical bridges that need work now," said Jiles.

Once identified, the proper actions can be taken.

"Some bridges are deficient," said Jiles. "Some we close. Some are okay. It depends on the nature of the inspection."

Any bridge in the parish could have been selected for repairs. The selected bridges will be paid for out of a 50 million dollar statewide fund in place for bridge repairs. Jeff Davis parish is being given a 1.5 million dollar portion of that pool to make repairs to the existing bridges or build new ones.

Jiles says that portion is not a cap, just the amount the parish is being given now. If more funds are needed, Jiles says the process will just take longer. For now, the first step is budgeting the projects at hand.

"What we'll do is probably advertise for a consultant to actually design these bridges, because right now we don't have a handle on the cost," said Jiles.

Jiles says Jeff Davis parish has several other deficient bridges besides the chosen three, but he says all of the surrounding parishes have them as well.

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