BATON ROUGE – The Department of Transportation and Development will open bids Friday, Sept. 9, for repairs to the I-10 “twin-span” bridge over Lake Pontchartrain severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
DOTD Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry said several pre-qualified, experienced contractor teams have been invited to attend a pre-proposal meeting. The Louisiana Division of the Federal Highway Administration has given its preliminary approval to proceed.
Hurricane Katrina severely damaged the 5.4-mile “twin-span” bridges over Lake Pontchartrain, which links Slidell to New Orleans and is a major route into New Orleans for interstate commerce and suburban workers. Both sections are currently impassable.
Bradberry said both spans sustained displacement of numerous bridge-span sections, and a large number of sections are completely missing.
State engineers met with Florida Department of Transportation engineers last Thursday (Sept. 1) to review Florida’s “fast-track” method used to procure a contractor to repair the I-10 Escambia Bay bridge, which is very similar to Louisiana’s “twin-span.”
The department also has engaged a consultant project manager to survey the bridge and develop a scope of work. The project manager also will provide engineering support services and manage the financial aspects of the repairs.
The preliminary proposed approach for the temporary repair for quick traffic access includes two phases of temporary repairs:
· Phase 1 will address repairs to the span determined to be least damaged. Crews will remove undamaged panels from the most damaged side to use to repair the least damaged bridge. Two-way traffic will be established on the least damaged bridge once it is repaired (one lane in each direction).
· Phase 2 will address repairs to the most-damaged span. Undamaged panels will be shifted to one end to repair as much as possible. The remainder will be repaired using temporary bridge span portable panels. This will result in one lane on the repaired span that had the most damage (since the portable panels can only sustain one lane) and two lanes of traffic on the repaired span that had sustained the least damage.
Completion estimates are tentative, depending on the extent of damage found, Bradberry said. At present, DOTD projects Phase 1 could be completed within 30-45 days, working 24 hours a day and seven days a week, from the start of construction to establish two-way traffic on the eastbound bridge. Phase 2 would run concurrently, with completion projected by January 2006.
Costs should be eligible for reimbursement for emergency relief funds allocated to FHWA upon passage of a special funding package from Congress.
DOTD will construct a new replacement bridge in Phase 3. FHWA is reimbursing Florida for a completely new six-lane bridge over Escambia Bay to replace its four-lane structures severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan. Bradberry has recommended the permanent replacement be a six-lane structure built at a higher elevation.