Bridge closure surprises drivers

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POSTED: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 9:29pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 9:32pm

Another bridge in Baton Rouge has been deemed too dangerous to drive on. Inspectors took a look at the Wax Road Bridge in Central Wednesday morning. They found a safety problem, and the parish and state agreed to shut it down. This is the second bridge in the parish, within the month, to be closed after a routine inspection. The first was the North Flannery Bridge over Lively Bayou.

Drivers who use the bridge regularly were shocked by the closure. Some say, they had no idea the bridge was in such bad shape.

"I showed up this morning, saw a DOTD truck in my driveway, came home for lunch and they had blocked [the bridge] off," says Duane Whitty. He lives right next to the bridge.

Peggy Logan lives just past the bridge in the Northwood subdivision. She got a big surprised when she tried to get her house Wednesday afternoon. "They gave us no warning, no notice!" she says. "I came down the road thinking maybe its just for thru traffic, you know. Maybe the homeowners can get to their homes. Maybe there's a trail or something, but no."

Logan was just a minute from her home. She had to backtrack about three miles to get back to her subdivision. "It feels like, really, I could just park the car here and walk home," she laughs.

She's not the only one who had to change her plans. Lester Strange lives in the Northwood subdivision too. "I read the newspaper everyday. I watch the news. I haven't heard a word about it."

He says having the bridge blocked off is a bit of an inconvenience. "I've gotta go out now and go all the way back around."

Parish officials say inspectors suggested to close the bridge after finding a hollowed, crush timber cap on it. Residents say, they've never been concerned about driving over it.

"I kinda look at it on a frequent basis and I've never noticed any structural damage," says Whitty. His home is just feet from the bridge.

"I've been driving over it for years," adds Strange. "Course, I never looked under the bridge."

Logan was shocked when she heard that the bridge was considered dangerous. "Frankly, I've never noticed it. I've always driven over it thinking it was fine."

Now, residents want to quickly solve the problem. "How long will the bridge be out?" Logan wants to know.

She's hoping this situation just won't happen again. "I hope it'll get fixed and I'm glad they're looking out for ous, but it would be nice to have some notice."

Just last week, inspectors found problems with two other bridges in the parish. Those crossings now have a five-ton load limit until crews can repair the damages.

Have questions about the bridge? Called the Department of Public Works Administration Office at (225)389-3158

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