Baton Rouge – As the 2004 Hurricane Season gets underway, Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), reminds marine vessel owners and operators that DOTD will close its moveable bridges to marine traffic and remove bridge operators before a hurricane arrives.
Whenever a mandatory evacuation of any area is ordered, DOTD will close all affected bridges to marine traffic until the evacuation is completed. When closing a bridge because of mandatory evacuation and/or high winds, DOTD will also remove the bridge operator for safety reasons. For this reason, it is imperative that all marine vessel owners move their vessels inland as soon as possible prior to the approach of a hurricane.
Generally speaking, bridges will close to marine traffic when the wind reaches a sustained speed of approximately 40 mph within that area. The factors which affect the closure of these bridges include the speed and direction from which the hurricane is approaching, the strength of the hurricane, the threat of rising waters, the location of the bridge, the ability of the bridge to properly operate in strong wind conditions, the presence or absence of alternate vehicular or marine traffic routes, and the safety of our bridge operators and bridge maintenance personnel.
The bridges located in the southernmost areas of any parish will typically be closed first. After these bridge operators have been safely evacuated, interior bridges will progressively begin to close as the need arises until all bridges are satisfactorily closed and remaining bridge operators are evacuated. DOTD will continue to operate all bridges as long as safely possible in advance of an approaching storm and will communicate with and notify all vessels near each bridge as to probable closure schedules. Whenever a closure becomes imminent, DOTD will notify the U. S. Coast Guard as soon as possible.