La. bridge work to end with a bang

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 8, 2009

JONESVILLE — The new bridge across the Black River in Jonesville is open, but the narrow steel and concrete structure it was intended to replace still stands next to it.

But the old bridge won’t stand forever, and when it goes, it will go with a bang and not a whimper.

“The contractors will dismantle some of it, but they will provide some explosives to bring part of it down,” Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development District 58 Engineer Administrator Ricky Moon said.

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The demolition of the bridge is part of the complete construction package for the new bridge.

“Part of the contract to build the new bridge also calls for the contractor to remove the old bridge,” Moon said.

Recent high water has delayed the demolition, however.

“The contractor anticipated doing it earlier, but a sequence of events that occurred, including the rise of the river, kept pushing that back,” Moon said. “Some of the preparatory work cannot be done because the river is high.”

The price tag for the entire project — construction and demolition — is $31 million.

The contract was awarded to James Construction Group, which is also doing the roadwork extending the four-lane further into Jonesville.

The roadwork, which began in February, will probably last until mid-2010, Moon said.

The cost for the road project is $5.8 million.

The old structure, the first bridge to cross the Black River into Jonesville, was built in the 1930s under the direction of Gov. Huey Long’s bridge-building program.

When it was constructed, the old bridge was built on top of dirt that was mined from a 1,200-year-old American Indian mound that at one time measured 80 feet in height but was effectively destroyed by the dirt work.