After touring the damaged Sunshine Bridge in St. James Parish, Governor John Bel Edwards announced plans for it to re-open in January 2019. The estimated cost to repair the damage is five-million dollars.
Edwards says the state will go after the barge operator to pick up the tab, not only the repairs, but the extra law enforcement costs in redirecting traffic.
"Louisiana will aggressively pursue Marquette Barge for reimbursement of all of the state costs for all of the repairs," said Edwards.
The bridge has been closed for nearly two weeks since a barge-mounted crane hit the structure. Marquette Transportation was operating the towboat moving the barge. Marquette Transportation has reportedly hit at least 32 bridges in the last 5 1/2 years and has not been sanctioned or fined.
Edwards says crews will be working around the clock to fix the bridge, but windy conditions could cause delays.
The governor saw drone footage and photos prior to today’s visit, and says after seeing the damage first hand, it’s much more severe than what he initially anticipated.
"When you get up close to the damage and you see the steel that's been twisted, you see the rivets that are missing, you get a real good appreciation how comprised that bridge is," said Edwards.