OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) – Work should begin soon to replace the Judson Walsh Bridge in Opelousas.
The wooden support beams have structural damage. The bridge currently has a weight restriction of five tons. That’s just one step away from closing the bridge for good.
“Everybody’s having to go around. That’s just for the safety of the kids and for the safety of the residents,” said Opelousas Mayor Reggie Tatum.
“We don’t want an accident. We don’t want to the bridge to collapse.”
The bridge is off limits to trucks, ambulances and school buses. Opelousas High School is only a half mile away from the bridge.
“That bridge is a lifeline for our law enforcement and first responders to get to the school, as well as residents,” said Chief Administrative Officer Rod Sias.
“The school is going to be happy too because the buses instead of going all the way around, they’re going to be able to go straight to school from off of I-49 or the service road,” Tatum said.
It will cost $189,000 to build a new bridge. The federal government will pay 80 percent and the state will pay 20 percent.
Sias said the bridge was considered a priority because of its proximity to I-49 and the high school.
“When you think about the state and local and federal governments talking, usually that’s a two to three year process and we were able to get it expedited and done in about nine months,” Sias said.
City officials said work on the bridge should begin sometime in the next month.