Detours ahead

Published 6:54 am Friday, January 4, 2013

The new year will bring a safer, concrete bridge on Nobles Cemetery Road. Along with the project, however, come temporary detours for some Pine residents.

Work was scheduled to begin Wednesday but has been delayed, possibly until next week, by weather conditions and work on utilities. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s timeline for the project has the bridge in service within six months, but Lavell Gerald, Washington Parish transportation manager, said this type of project typically wraps up in about three months, depending on weather.

The work is being completed by contractor Keys Construction, he said.

The portion of Nobles Cemetery Road involved in the project is located off Louisiana Highway 424 in Pine, Gerald said. The bridge, which crosses Thomas Branch, can be found about a mile and a half down the road.

For the duration of the construction the road will be open, but the area around the bridge will be closed to through traffic, Gerald said. Residents who live before the bridge can gain entry through La. 424. All others will need to detour through Henry Crain Road, located off Louisiana Highway 436, or enter through the other end of Nobles Cemetery Road, he said.

The project is being funded through the federal Off-System Bridge Program. With about 80 percent of funds coming from the federal government and the remaining 20 percent from the state, the parish receives a list of eligible off-system bridges each year. From the list, Gerald chooses the bridges that need to be replaced.

Replacing a bridge the size of the one on Nobles Cemetery Road usually carries a roughly $300,000 price tag, Gerald said. The bridges are completed as funding becomes available. There is no cost to the parish, and it is responsible only for completing the right-of-ways, he said. Once the funding and right-of-ways are in place the bridge slated for replacement is mapped out by an engineer, and project is opened to contractors for bids. Five other bridges are scheduled to be let out to contractors for bids this year, he said.

The Nobles Cemetery Road bridge is being replaced due to deficiencies. The new bridge will be made out of concrete and will be safer and more durable than the timber bridge it is replacing, Gerald said.

“We won’t have to worry about wood pilings rotting out,” he said. “Those bridges like that last 10 times longer than a piling bridge.”