I-210 Bridge protectors corroded

State highway officials say they are addressing the corrosion of barriers that protect the I-210 bridge.

In the same way that some buildings have concrete posts to prevent cars from running into them, the interstate 210 bridge has barricades to keep ships and barges from bumping the bridge supports. Otherwise, vessels could damage the bridge.

Lake Charles pilots help guide the ships. Captain Mike Miller says they recently discovered the protective barriers, which they call dolphins, are corroded. "We were afraid that the fendering system was not structurally sound enough to protect the bridge in case there was an accident such as a ship losing its steering or a ship losing its power."

It's especially a concern for vessels having to make a sharp turn out of PPG. "We bring large chemical tankers out of the PPG Canal into the Calcasieu River and must make a hard right turn under the bridge. It's a very difficult maneuver. Our concern is that we want good fendering and protection in case something goes wrong."

The pilots took state bridge experts out in a boat to see the corrosion. State officials say they are addressing the problem. Gene Caldwell is with the state highway department. "It needs to be redesigned and built to today's standards that would withstand a ship impact. We're undertaking a project to rebuild the dolphins to provide some current design ship impact resistant main pier protections to protect the bridge against a wayward vessel. "

Officials say the bridge itself, which was built in 1963,  is in good shape.  State officials say planning is underway and they hope to be able to hire a contractor and build new bridge barriers within the next several years.