Seventeen bridges in Lafayette Parish probably will have to be replaced in the next five years.

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Motorists cross the coulee bridge on Crestlawn Drive Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Lafayette, La.

Because of the Vermilion River, which runs through Lafayette, and many tributaries and other waterways, residents of Lafayette Parish are heavily dependent on bridges.

Public Works Director Mark Dubroc said most of the bridges scheduled for replacement were built in the 1970s and 1980s with timber pilings.

The 17 bridges are on:

  • Anderson Road
  • Bajat Road
  • Bayou Tortue Road
  • Canberra Drive
  • Crestlawn Drive
  • Denais Road
  • East Butcher Switch Road
  • East Martial Avenue
  • East Peck Boulevard
  • Failla Road
  • Jenkins Road
  • Ranch Road
  • Rim Road
  • Rue des Etoiles Road
  • Stutes Road
  • Tolson Road
  • Veterinarian Road
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Motorists cross the coulee bridge on Canberra Road Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Lafayette, La.

All of the bridges are open to traffic at this time and Dubroc said he doesn't anticipate closing any in the immediate future. But as the condition of the bridges gets progressively worse, the rating of each bridge may be reduced and posted to allow only smaller vehicles carrying less tonnage until the bridge is replaced.

LCG already is doing preliminary work to replace the bridges. Contracts for the design of the new bridges were released several months ago and the design work is underway, Dubroc said. On March 11, the LCG Professional Services Review Committee approved contracts for geotechnical engineers to perform soil borings and tests at the site of each bridge. The cost of the geotechnical work is about $173,000.

The projects are part of LCG's bridge maintenance program, he said.

Recently, the Surrey Street bridge near Lafayette Regional Airport was closed for nearly 10 months for repairs. 

DOTD Inspectors discovered corroded bearings that support steel beams on the underside of the Surrey Street bridge.

Dubroc said engineers were concerned heavy traffic could cause the deck of the bridge to fracture and develop a 12-inch drop that would be dangerous to motorists.

About 16,000 vehicles cross that bridge every day.

The structure supporting the bridge was under water nearly two months in 2016 as historically heavy rainfall caused the Vermilion River to rise 9 feet in 24 hours on Aug. 12, 2016, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

On March 7, Louisiana DOTD closed a bridge on LA 1252 — a half-mile south of the Lafayette/St. Martin Parish line — because of a failing cap and pile decay.

"It's the third bridge we are closing in 2019," Secretary Shawn Wilson said on Twitter. DOTD said they expected that bridge work to be completed by March 20.


Follow Claire Taylor on Twitter, @ClaireTaylorACA