DOTD: Sunshine Bridge should have come down after barge hit

DOTD: Sunshine Bridge should have come down after barge hit
(Source: WAFB)

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - An engineer for the Louisiana Department of Transportation Development says the Sunshine Bridge should have come down after a crane barge crashed into it in October of 2018.

A federal panel has been holding meetings since Monday, examining evidence and investigating the crash.

On Thursday, May 9, David Miller, chief maintenance engineer for DOTD, said that when a computer model was run, the amount of damage that the barge caused to a key support beam for the bridge should have caused a critical failure, according to The Advocate.

“On paper, that probably should have failed,” Miller told the joint panel of U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board meeting in Gonzales.

The crash caused a traffic nightmare, closing the bridge entirely from Oct. 12 to Dec. 1, then remained partially closed for repairs until the bridge was reopened in middle of March.

Miller says the crash happened at the worst possible location. The barge hit a critical steel beam that bears the compression stress of 1.7 million pounds of force.

Miller said the once the beam was bent inward, the beam and the bridge lost a lot of its strength. He compared the damage to the bridge’s ability ability to handle its weight loads to an aluminum soft drink can once its side is bent.

While a metal can is difficult to smash when unbent, once the can has a small bend or small crinkle in the metal, the can is easily smashed, he said.

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