The westbound lanes of I-10 over Lake Pontchartrain will be closed for a 24-hour period beginning at midnight Friday, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
Workers with Johnson Brothers Corp. will replace one of the westbound bridge spans between Slidell and Irish Bayou as part of an eight-month, $3.5-million project to rehabilitate the 30 year old structures on I-10, known as the Twin Spans.
Westbound traffic will be directed onto westbound I-12, then to either southbound Causeway at Covington or southbound I-55 at Hammond back to the New Orleans area. Eastbound traffic from New Orleans to Slidell will not be affected by the closure.
According to Mark Windle, project manager for Johnson Brothers, work will begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and is expected to be finished some time Saturday evening.
"Because we will be working from a barge in the middle of the lake, weather will definitely be a factor," Windle stated. "If for some reason the work cannot be done we will reschedule sometime after the July Fourth weekend, but once we lift that old span out, we are committed to finishing."
The westbound roadway will be completely closed at Oak Harbor Boulevard, but signs will direct through traffic to use alternate routes before they get that far. Local traffic will have access to the U.S. 11 bridge and the Rigolets bridge on old U.S. 90, both of which can be reached from the Louisiana 433 (Old Spanish Trail) exit near Slidell. However, both of those bridges have weight restrictions, so large trucks will not be able to use them.
"I-12 is definitely the way to go," said Dick Kinchen, district traffic operations engineer for LaDOTD in Hammond. "We are asking for everyone's cooperation in avoiding the area if at all possible."
Jefferson Parish has agreed to change the sequence of a resurfacing project on Causeway Boulevard, directly in the path of detouring traffic. They had scheduled their work to avoid the weekday traffic, but now have agreed to not close any southbound lanes this Saturday.
Consideration also was given to asking the Causeway Commission to suspend tolls on the Causeway, but instead, signs will inform motorists on I-12 of the toll and give them the option of continuing to I-55, covering an extra 50 miles.
Officials at the weigh stations and welcome centers on I-10 and I-59 also are being alerted, and signs in the welcome centers will be used to inform the public of the closure and available detours.
Trucking interests and highway officials in Mississippi also are being enlisted to get the word out. This week, contractor personnel are installing and programming 14 electronic variable message signs to help motorists with the detours.