State Police step up local load enforcement
State Police say they are continuously monitoring and writing tickets for truckers who violate the weight limits on U.S. 90 over Bayou Ramos.
While not every 18-wheel truck weighs enough to violate the weight restrictions of 15 and 25 tons, depending on the number of axles, Louisiana State Police Public Information Officer Stephen Hammons said troopers have been writing tickets for illegal crossings since the load limit was put in place in March.
Troopers and personnel from the Department of Safety are assigned to the mile-and-a-half stretch of twin bridges on U.S. 90 east of Morgan City weekly, ensuring someone with enforcement authority remains in the vicinity to monitor traffic, Hammonds said.
He stressed to drivers of such trucks that they should “obey all traffic laws and all signs,” in the area.
The load-limited stretch of highway is under investigation by the Department of Transportation and Development after a routine inspection in March showed cracks to the girders located between the substructure where they hold up the decks cars drive on.
Core samples from the damaged sections revealed no irregularities, according to state Department of Transportation and Development District 3 Engineer Administrator Bill Olivier.
“We still are not sure of what the causes are,” Olivier said, adding that engineers may never know the reason unless the girders are destroyed and studied.
Olivier called the cracks “unexpected” in a bridge of this age. It opened July 20, 1999, but this particular section was constructed in 1994. He noted that this problem is unique in the state, but may not be in the nation.
Because he has not seen the cracks himself, Olivier could not describe the amount or size of the cracks, but said they are “a little more than hairline.”
Olivier said the main focus now is on repairing the structure so it can continue in service.
Phase I of a rehabilitation project to begin repairs to the bridge is scheduled to begin in August. Work on girders deemed high-priority — those with visible cracks — will be addressed in Phase I. Remaining girders will be addressed in Phase II, which is scheduled to take place in fiscal year 2013-14.
Meanwhile, truck traffic above weight limits is detouring. For trucks traveling westbound the route is U.S. 90 to Lake Palourde Bypass Road (exit 181) to La. 182 to U.S. 90. The detour for trucks traveling eastbound is U.S. 90 to La. 182 (Morgan City exit) to Lake Palourde Bypass Road to U.S. 90.