I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge fire exposes urgency for new bridge

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 7:43 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - After an 18-wheeler caught fire Wednesday evening, the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge had to be closed off to motorists through Thursday afternoon.

Officials said the truck that caught fire was carrying building materials, and only minor injuries were reported.

Following the fire, the I-10 Calcasieu Bridge Task Force raised ongoing concerns about the vitality, as well as the importance of the bridge.

The I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge is an essential part of travel for many in the area and those traveling in and out of Texas. After the incident, many were caught up in the traffic of the thousands having to re-route due to the bridge closure.

The task force estimates between 80,000 and 100,000 vehicles cross the I-10 bridge each day.

“This bridge impacts the lives of our citizens on a daily basis, and without it, it creates complete mayhem,” task force chairman Keith DuRousseau said.

DuRousseau said the task force, along with many others in the Lake Area, believe the bridge is unsafe. And they said this incident exposes the urgency for a new bridge.

“The thermal imaging that you see in the video outlines what is post-accident,” DeRousseau said. “The following day, we’re still seeing the effects of this incident - the following day. So, it’s really alarming to us.”

DuRousseau also points out that having the bridge closed for an extended period of time is costly.

“This right here - the supply chain - the importance of it. The bridge is estimated as $1 to $2 million an hour - is what it cost to be out of service,” DuRousseau said. “This right here is another catastrophic blow to Southwest Louisiana - which we can’t afford.”

DuRousseau adds that the task force hopes they can continue to work with congress and DOTD to expedite the replacement of the bridge.

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