The Sunshine Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. James Parish is closed indefinitely after a barge crashed into the bridge early Friday morning.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development shared photos of the bridge which showed one of the main load-carrying beams was severely damaged by the crash. DOTD inspectors are at the scene using drones to inspect the bridge for additional damage.
DOTD said the bridge will remain closed until the necessary repairs are made and the bridge is deemed safe to the public.
“We know the closure of the Sunshine Bridge is an inconvenience for many travelers, and we will expedite the emergency repairs,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “That being said, safety is our number one concern and we have to ensure the bridge can safely handle traffic before it’s reopened.”
The operators of the barge, Marquette Transportation Company, said they're working closelt with the Coast Guard and Department of Transportation to make sure the bridge is properly repaired and reopened.
"Our top priority is the safety of the public, our mariners and the environment. At the time of the incident, in accordance with our policies, we promptly notified 911, the state police and the Coast Guard," Damon Judd, President of Marquette Transportation, said in a written statement. "Although the investigation is still in process, we can confirm that there were no injuries to our crew, no injuries to the public and no impact to the environment. We are taking this matter very seriously and are actively working with the Coast Guard and the LA DOT to complete the investigation and assess the damage to the bridge and required repairs."
Due to the closure, a second Plaquemine Ferry will operate a second ferry until 10 a.m. and return to service an hour earlier at 1:30 p.m. during the week. Weekend service will begin an hour earlier at 8 a.m. until further notice.