Officials say highway, bridge work about over

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 1999

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / December 11, 1999

LULING – The end to all this highway work on the Hale Boggs Bridge and Airline Highway will come within two months, according to project engineers with the state Department of Transportation and Development.

The bridge overlay work is expected to wrap up before Christmas, Ozzie Hansen commented, with only one of four lanes remaining to be completed.

“We’re at the three-fourths point,” Hansen said.

Right now, a 322-foot concrete patch on the northbound outside lane is being installed as an experiment to stabilize the road surface which has been plagued in past years with a shifting surface prone to quick breakdown.

“Since we started with the bridge, we’ve had problems with the surfacing,” Hansen added. “It doesn’t want to stay where we put it.Asphalt has difficulty bonding to steel plate.”The work consists of scraping off the old, deteriorated asphalt to the steel roadbed, shot-blasting it to clean off any residue to a pebbled surface, then adding an epoxy resin and a layer of fiberglass woven cloth and more resin.

Aggregate, a form of ground-up granite, is placed on the resin, then reinforced steel and then the concrete. Where the concrete is not beingplaced, the asphalt is layered onto the resined steel plate.

“We should get five years or so use out of it,” Hansen noted. “We don’tknow if it will work.”The bridge takes a pounding from traffic as, according to Chris Morvant of DOTD’s Bridge City office, 31,480 vehicles use the bridge every day – according to 1997 figures.

Bruce Purdue, the DOTD project engineer for the Airline Highway overlay project from the St. John to the Jefferson line, said the job is 70 percentcompleted in 50 percent of the contract time, meaning the project is well ahead of schedule.

One thing which speeded up the work was the quick installation of box culverts alongside the highway in less time than called for in the contract.

Motorists have complained about the uneven road surface, especially on the eastbound side. However, Purdue added, complaints on the westboundlanes ended once the top lift of the road surface was installed.

Contractor Angelo Iafraite began work in January on the $5,495,000 contract and is expected to finish the work “within two months,” Purdue said.

He noted it had been at least 15 years since the last similar overlay of that segment of Airline Highway.

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