DONALDSONVILLE — Long-suffering commuters who have crossed the Sunshine Bridge each day for almost two years in stifling traffic are receiving a well-earned return to normalcy a few months early.
State highway officials said Friday that a $25.1 million project to refurbish and repaint the Mississippi River bridge in St. James Parish finished early, allowing them to reopen all four lanes on Thursday.
The bridge generally has been limited to two lanes since mid-March 2014.
Until July, the bridge also had been shrouded with large coverings that made it seem cavelike while contractor North Star Painting Co. sandblasted, repaired and painted the metal trusses for the bridge’s span over the river.
The work, which state highway officials have said they could not delay, coincided with a $2.2 billion expansion of the nearby CF Industries complex by Donaldsonville. That job brings thousands of contractors daily to the site.
The state Department of Transportation and Development officials previously said the bridge project would not be finished until early 2016.
But Anastasia Semien, DOTD spokeswoman, said Friday the work wrapped up early.
“Once the lanes are restriped on Monday and Tuesday, the project will be complete,” she said in an email.