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Congestion builds on southbound LA 1 as inspections and repairs continue on the Intracoastal Bridge, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Port Allen, La.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will shift the lane configuration on La. 1 southbound as early as Monday as repairs continue on the heavily trafficked roadway.

Crews have been working on the highway for approximately a week since a driver struck and damaged a girder on the Intracoastal Bridge on March 19. The closure has caused traffic backups in the area at peak times, particularly as drivers exit from the Interstate 10 bridge westbound toward Port Allen.

DOTD's latest change will see the left lane of the southbound highway closed from the bottom of the Intracoastal bridge to the midway point, where traffic will then switch from the right to the left lane.

Southbound traffic will continue to utilize only one lane of the highway the entirety of the bridge's length, but instead of traveling only in the left lane as has been the case the last week, drivers will switch lanes briefly at the midway point.

According to a DOTD news release issued Sunday, the change is happening because the contractor working on a scheduled joint repair project in the area has completed work in the currently-closed right lane and will now begin work on the upslope of the left lane. Emergency repairs are continuing in other portions of the right lane.

DOTD estimates the joint work in the currently-closed section of the southbound highway will be complete by Friday. Crews are still scheduled to repair joints in other sections of the southbound highway and in the northbound lanes in the near future.

The troubled section of highway was already seeing slowdowns in the northbound lane as scheduled construction was happening from early March to secure dozens of joints, a project intended to prolong the life of the bridge.

However, when the driver's impact damaged the girder Tuesday, DOTD stopped work on the northbound lane and moved to the southbound lane with the idea to complete both the scheduled joint repairs as well as the emergency girder repairs to maximize work during the forced closure.

"The department will continue to maximize the unexpected closure of a lane to ensure that the total repair of this bridge, as originally intended happens as soon as possible. We continue to try and find ways to ensure safe conditions and reduced congestion," Sunday's statement reads.

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