Speed limit on half of Twinspan Bridge drops to 45 mph for all vehicles

| 4/3/2006

Temporary panels used to repair the westbound Interstate 10 Twinspan Bridge in New Orleans, LA, are taking a pounding, and state officials are asking motorists to slow down.

In case a warning isn’t sufficient, state troopers have stepped up traffic enforcement on the roadway. Temporary repairs made it possible to reopen the bridge after parts of it were ripped away by Hurricane Katrina last year, but traffic is taking its toll.

If the slower speed limit and added enforcement don’t work, officials said, the next step would be to ban trucks from the repaired bridge.

“We’re pleased that citizens are returning to the metro area during this time of rebuilding,” said Col. Henry Whitehorn, a Louisiana State Police official, in a press release. “However, the personal safety of motorists and the structural safety of the bridge are paramount.”

The westbound span of the bridge, which reopened Jan. 6, 2006, was repaired with prefabricated bridge sections of hot-dipped galvanized steel inserted into two sections to form two lanes at 24 feet wide.

A special traffic-management plan had included a lower speed limit of 50 mph for cars and 40 mph for trucks on the westbound side, with lane changes prohibited on the approach and crossing the panels, compared with 60 mph on the eastbound side.

However, effective next week, the maximum speed on the westbound side will be posted at 45 mph for all vehicles.

Both the eastbound and westbound spans are closed to all oversize and overweight loads. The weight limit for trucks is 80,000 pounds. For permitted loads beyond 80,000 pounds, the alternate route is nearby Interstate 55.

State officials are also in the process of installing electronic speed-limit boards to remind motorists of the lower speed and show them how fast they are going.