Disaster ends up saving Bossier Parish money on its bridges

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A major bridge disaster roughly 1,300 miles to the north nearly put Bossier Parish in a bind, but parish police jurors learned Wednesday that a large financial bullet may have been dodged.

“Our state DOTD is under a new compliance order from the federal government after the Minnesota bridge collapse,” Parish Engineer Butch Ford reported. “They have to make sure all bridges are load rated appropriately.”

Ten years ago, an interstate highway crossing the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour traffic, killing 13 and injuring 145 more.

“We were being told we were going to have to call our engineers to rate all the bridges. Those ratings can cost from ten to thirty thousand dollars each. There are 34 unrated bridges in the parish. We can’t afford that kind of money,” he said.

Ford said 22 of the unrated bridges in the parish were built by DOTD, but none were load rated at the time. 

“DOTD met and decided if they built the bridge they will rate it for free,” Ford said. “If it’s a non-DOTD bridge, they will charge us five thousand dollars per bridge. And they won’t send us a bill. They will deduct the total from our Off System Bridge Fund we receive.”

Another parish bridge will soon be rebuilt, Ford told the jury members. Foxskin Bayou’s structure on Sligo Road is scheduled to go out for bids next week. That bridge work is part of the wish list Ford put together last month and will be funded by a portion of the $20.5 million the parish borrowed for infrastructure projects.