Inspection Closes Louisiana Bridge; Tax to Replace it Killed

August 4, 2011

Less than a week after the Metro Council killed Mayor-President Kip Holden’s capital improvements tax package, the state ordered East Baton Rouge city-parish to shut down a bridge that would have been replaced with the proposed taxes.

Holden says the closure of North Flannery Road Bridge over Lively Bayou was just the beginning of a “traffic nightmare” that will result from the closure of more of the parish’s aging bridges.

Holden says the situation will get even worse when school starts, The Advocate reported.

The bridge was closed Tuesday after inspectors from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development found critical deficiencies.

The city-parish was given 24 hours to close the bridge or risk losing state and federal funding for its bridge program, according to a city-parish news release.

The closed bridge is on a list of 78 of the weakest bridges in the parish slated for replacement within 10 years under the mayor’s capital improvements plan.

Bridges have been the cornerstone of Holden’s latest campaign to pass his $748 million tax and bond plan – of which $80 million would have gone toward bridge replacements.

But on July 27, the Metro Council unexpectedly voted 9-3 to delete the tax package from the council’s agenda, preventing it from being considered and discussed.

Holden could reintroduce the tax proposal on the council’s Aug. 10 agenda or call for a special meeting before Aug. 16, which is the deadline for November election items to be submitted to the State Bond Commission.

The closed bridge was built in 1965, and is one of about 200 bridges in the parish that has a timber structural component making it more prone to deterioration, city-parish officials said.

The bridge has an average daily traffic volume of approximately 13,000 vehicles per day, said William Daniel, interim director of the city-parish Department of Public Works.

DPW employees will determine by Wednesday whether the bridge can be repaired or if it will have to remain closed.

“If we can’t fix the bridge, it will be a minimum of two years before we can get it opened,” he said.

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