Louisiana ranks ninth in the country for structurally deficient rural bridges, according to the transportation research group TRIP. Their report, which used state data, found 15 percent of rural bridges in Louisiana need to be repaired or replaced.
State Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson says that’s not surprising, as he just had to close a bridge in Vernon Parish.
“It was a rural bridge, the exact same type of structure that this report speaks to, and it’s only going to get worse because these bridges are like people – the older they get, the more complications they may have,” Wilson said.
Wilson says what makes the problem worse is that DOTD doesn’t have the money to build new bridges, they can only repair aging bridges, and that’s just a temporary fix.
“Those repairs aren’t going to be permanent. They’re not going to make a bridge like brand new. They’re just going to buy more time, and eventually it will run into the same issues,” Wilson said.
Wilson says there’s about 5,000 rural bridges in Louisiana that are not owned by the state. He says many times, they only work on 15 to 20 of those bridges a year because there’s not enough revenue to cover the cost of necessary maintenance.
“We’re going to do everything we can. The issue is the pie does not change, but the demand and the appetite for the repairs are growing larger and larger,” Wilson said.