October 24, 2006
Reported by Pam Dixon
The Interstate 10 bridge opened in the early 1950s. Multiply that by the 40-thousand vehicles that cross it everyday and that adds up to a lot of wear and tear. Gene Caldwell with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says, "It's old. It's 50 something years old now. It's seen its better days. It's still a very safe structure to cross."
DOTD inspects the bridge every two years, but this is the first time since 1987 it's getting a detailed inspection from the bottom where it touches the water on up. Caldwell says, "You're looking at all the structural members themselves. You're looking at all the connection plates. You're looking at the bearings and such. You're looking at the condition of the deck. You're looking at the condition of the handrails and things like that.
Structural engineer David Huval with Huval and Associates of Lafayette is in charge of the inspection. Huval says, "We're inspecting for corrosion, how much corrosion has been sustained, and what we're finding since the storm, since Rita, we've found a considerable amount of corrosion that has taken place and it was really revealed by the storm, and we also found a problem with deck surface. We need to clean the corrosion and repaint."
But even before repair work can get underway, engineers still have about three to four weeks of work left to complete the inspection.