Officials to look at Basin Bridge again; drivers say that's not enough

Officials to look at Basin Bridge again; drivers say that's not enough
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POSTED: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 6:39pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 9:42pm

"That’s what our tax money goes to I thought, so I would appreciate them doing more inspections," said driver Candice Thornton.

Candice is not the only one who wants more inspections of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, especially after last week’s deadly accident. Friday’s crash trapped hundreds of people on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge for nearly seven hours.

The road was closed for nearly 24 hours until it opened back up Saturday afternoon.

State highway workers are headed back to the crash site Thursday to make sure they didn't miss anything. Two people died in the fiery crash and DOTD wants to make sure 'everything' on the bridge is safe. A lot of drivers tell NBC33, they hope DOTD will do even more.

You could see the smoke billowing for hours as the flames reached higher and higher into the sky. It meant a lot of waiting and not just for the hundreds of drivers.

"We were out there the whole time immediately after the accident waiting for the fire to be put out," said David Miller, the bridge expert with DOTD.

People driving down the bridge say they never imagined the crash was that bad. They also said they never imagined they'd get stuck that long.

"There was a bunch of people and no food and no water. There were a bunch of people going to the bathroom off of the bridge; I mean it was kind of a crazy scene," said Dan Ferrante who was stuck on the bridge for hours on Friday.

But now the bridge is open. Cars and trucks continue to fly by as if nothing ever happened.

“I hate making the trek because there is always either too many trucks and they don’t follow the law," said Thornton.

But the bridge is still on DOTD’s radar.
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"The bridge was damaged and it was safe but it was damaged, so we need to find out the extent of that damage," said Miller.

They say the damage was extremely minimal, even though it may not look like it.

“You see a lot of black soot below the bridge, well, that’s actually an indication it wasn’t a super hot fire in that area. When you get a really hot fire you'll get grey soot or white soot, and that’s when you know you could have some severe damage."

But one of those drivers who was stuck for hours that day says, yes, it is important to inspect, but it is time to look at the bigger picture.

"They have to have some checkpoints where you can at least turn around,” noted Ferrante. “I don't think people should be stuck on a bridge for 6 hours."

Other say, it is what it is and accidents happen.

"Right outside of Baton Rouge we ran into a big crash out there, said driver Bubby Hughes. “It happen there is nothing you can do about it, people just don’t drive safe."

That section of the interstate is supported by eight beams and three were impacted. Only one is somewhat damaged. DOTD says all in all, that is good news.

Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. until noon, the outside eastbound lane will be closed on the bridge at mile marker 126, near Whiskey Bay.

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