Damage from oversized trucks with heavy loads causes need for repairs
The frequency with which Bossier Parish performs bridge inspections is increasing because of continued damage from overweight trucks and increased commercial traffic, parish officials say.
Bridge inspections will now occur every six months as opposed to annually to ensure parish bridges remain safe, parish engineer Butch Ford said.
Three bridges recently underwent repairs for cracked support structures and crushed caps, and more are expected to start in the coming weeks.
Swan Lake Road Bridge, which had support structures repaired in August, underwent additional repairs a couple weeks ago to fix newly cracked support structures.
In addition, crushed caps, which hold up the support structures of a bridge, were discovered on Elston, Smith and Atkins-Clark Roads. Repairs on Elston Road concluded last week and work on Smith Road will begin soon.
Overweight trucks aren’t the only cause of bridge damage, according to Russell Craig, an officer with the parish’s commercial vehicle enforcement unit.
“The pure increase in the volume (of trucks) is just as bad as one overweight one,” he said. “You may have a bridge with an 80,000 ton limit that had five trucks going across it a day when it was first built but now has five trucks (going across) in an hour.”
Truck traffic has been increasing in the oil and gas industry over the past year, according to Jodee Bruyninckx, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association’s North Louisiana director. She said her organization continues to work with the parish and its commercial vehicle enforcement unit on how to address the increase in industry traffic and its effect on local bridges.
The commercial vehicle unit currently requires a company to obtain a permit to transport truck loads that exceed bridge weight limits. Large cranes and other large-scale drilling devices can often exceed the limit. The office assists trucks carrying those loads to identify a safe route to their destination. They also follow the truck as they cross the bridge to verify the weight of the load and inspect the bridge before and after they cross, Ford said.
“We’ve got folks coming out here who are not following these procedures and those are the loads causing the damage,” he said.
Ford said it’s not feasible to place a person at each of the bridges in the parish, so the only way to ensure the bridges remain safe for travel is to increase the frequency of when they’re inspected.
Bridges were last inspected in the fall of 2010 and will come up for inspection again this summer.