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Sunshine Bridge opening to traffic on Saturday

The Sunshine Bridge is opening Saturday for traffic with one lane in each direction.

There will be limitations, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Crews began installing a new replacement chord and transferring the load to the new chord from the jack system that is used to temporarily bypass the damaged chord and relieve the structure.

Work will continue 24 hours a day to finish the repairs. The chord is one of the main load-carrying members and is required to ensure the safety of motorists traveling across the bridge.

“This partial opening will provide some relief to the families and businesses of the River Region,” Governor John Bel Edwards. “It is a significant milestone in the full restoration of the Sunshine Bridge. I appreciate the DOTD, consultants, contractors and sheriffs for their aggressive approach, including 24-hour work on the repair and extended traffic control services.”

The replaced chord and the bridge structure are performing as anticipated, and with two lanes remaining closed, the bridge is only half as loaded as it could be when fully open.

Therefore, officials are restricting width to 11 feet due to the narrowed lanes and permitted loads only up to 80,000 pounds will be allowed. Any loads outside of this restriction should continue to use previously approved detour routes.

The speed limit will be 45 mph for all vehicles.

DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson said crews began installing concrete barriers last week on the westbound side in preparation to open one lane of traffic in each direction.

“Crews have been working 24 hours a day to repair the bridge, which has allowed us the opportunity to partially open the bridge to traffic, which we attempted to do after the collision, but it was determined to be unsafe,” Wilson said. “The chord damaged by the crane has been replaced and after an initial inspection, the bridge has been deemed safe for through traffic in a one-lane configuration.”

Other repairs on the Sunshine Bridge caused by the accident will continue under through traffic. These repairs include the replacement of damaged horizontal bracings, restoration of damaged connections between stringers and floor beams, and painting of the new chord and misc. connections.

Repairs are estimated to be completed in January, weather permitting. One weekend of bridge closures will be required when installing the new horizontal bracings.

Commuters are reminded to take advantage of The Commuter Krewe website, offering a ride-matching database to help commuters find others who live and work nearby to share rides.

Go to commuterkrewe.la and sign up.
DOTD has also adjusted the Plaquemine ferry schedule. During the duration of the Sunshine Bridge closure, additional ferry service hours will be
• Monday through Friday, the first boat will run from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
• Monday through Friday, the second boat will run from 5:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday and Sunday, the first boat will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Saturday and Sunday, the second boat will run from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

When two ferries are in operation, they are scheduled to depart every 15 minutes. When there is only one, it leaves every 30 minutes (departs Plaquemine at :00 and :30, Sunshine at :15 and :45).

Motorists are also encouraged to use the Veterans Memorial Bridge as an alternate river crossing.