State to inspect Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Crews from the state Department of Transportation this week will inspect the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge after finding damage caused by Friday’s fiery tractor trailer pileup.

Louisiana State Police plan to close the right lane of Interstate 10 eastbound near Whiskey Bay at 8 a.m. Thursday. The inspection is expected to last until noon.

Two people were killed when the driver of one of the 18-wheelers failed to slow down in traffic. That truck slammed into the back of another, causing a chain reaction crash involving four trailers.

Photos taken after one of the trucks burned for hours show black soot covering the bridge.

“That’s actually a good sign. That means we didn’t get high intense heat. If you see a white soot, then you know you may have had some severe damage,” said David Miller, maintenance engineer for the department.

Miller said the bridge’s structural supports are strong but an initial inspection shows they need to replace the railings where one of the 18-wheelers hit and then tipped over.

“We probably won’t be replacing anything other than the section of barrier rail where the trucks actually hit. There’s nothing underneath I’m expecting that we’ll have to replace,” Miller said.

Still, crews will examine the top of the bridge and the structural supports under water for damage.

“The bridge did get damaged, but in order to repair the bridge we have to get up there and get a little closer and see exactly what’s damaged so that we can get it repaired,” her said.