Baton Rouge using federal funds to tackle bridge projects across parish _lowres


East Baton Rouge Parish is on a bridge-replacing spree after receiving $20 million in federal funds.

The city-parish already has completed work on three roads at or near the Baton Rouge Airport, and now drivers in the rest of the parish will be seeing crews at the 20 other bridges undergoing or scheduled for replacement.

Friday, the city announced its intention to start replacing the Port Hudson-Pride Road bridge over Little Sandy Creek. Local traffic will be re-routed to Jackson Road starting July 11 and running through the end of February 2017.

The bridge is an old wooden structure with an asphalt overlay, city-parish engineer Mark Stephens said.

Under federal law, he said, bridges have to be inspected at least once every two years, and East Baton Rouge has several old structures that are nearing the ends of their serviceable lives.

Storms have added to the wear and tear on parish bridges, and the city was able to secure disaster funding through the Department of Housing Urban Development following 2008’s Hurricane Ike and especially after Hurricane Gustav, Stephens said.

For bridges like the one in Cheneyville, the money will go toward replacing the old timber structure with a concrete one. None of the parish projects are especially large — the roads span creeks and bayous, not rivers — and the financing works out to less than a million dollars per project.

The routes are important to locals, though. Port Hudson-Pride Road connects drivers to the Pride Cheneyville Library and the Northeast elementary and high schools, both of which are just down the street from the two-lane bridge.

In addition to the federally-funded projects,the city-parish is preparing to replace another 10 bridges using local money, though most of those efforts are still in the design phase.

“We’re seeing a lot of programs in the parish,” Stephens said.

“There’s a lot of action going on right now.”

Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter @SteveRHardy.