- Associated Press - Sunday, November 12, 2017

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A southwest Louisiana bridge over the Vermilion River could be closed to traffic for more than half a year as the city of Lafayette works on emergency repairs.

Lafayette Consolidated Government is poised to hire Huval & Associates, Inc. to design emergency repairs to the Surrey Street bridge, which the city-parish immediately closed last month after receiving a state inspection warning the bridge was near failing.

The Advocate reports the design and construction work is expected to keep the bridge inoperable for as long as eight months.

Public Works Director Mark Dubroc told the City-Parish Council last week that design would take about a month and procurement of a construction contractor would follow completion of the design.

Dubroc said repairs will cost an estimated $500,000. A completely new bridge would cost about $3 million and require two years of construction, Dubroc said, responding to questions posed by Councilman William Theriot.

Dubroc said he was shocked to learn that the bridge, built in 1948, was on the verge of failure following a routine state inspection last month. The bridge receives yearly inspections, alternating between the state and city-parish.

The previous state inspection, in 2015, showed some ordinary, light rust, Dubroc told the council, and additional rust found in the city-parish inspection the following year did not affect structural integrity.

The 2017 inspection, however, showed one of eight bearings that help support the structure had completely failed and another one was in imminent danger of failure. Heavy truck traffic on the bridge could have caused the bridge to drop by a foot, which could easily fracture the deck and result in a collapse, Dubroc said.

“We were very taken aback by the sudden progression,” Dubroc said. “We felt at that moment it was not a risk anybody would be willing to take, with anybody’s life, so we consequently immediately shut down the bridge.”

Dubroc said the only logical reason for the unexpected findings is the 2016 flood, which came after the city-parish inspection.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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