Bossier bridge weight changes raise concerns about emergency response times

Bossier bridge weight changes raise concerns about emergency response times

BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - New weight limit signs are now up around three bridges in the area between Haughton and South Bossier, it limits the weight of vehicles traveling across the bridge to 5 tons.

The weight limitation essentially means 18 wheelers, ambulances, fire trucks, school buses and any other heavy vehicles can't cross the bridge.

The Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) decided to limit the posted load after the following bridges were inspected: the bridge on Koran/Doyline Road, Alford Road, and the LA Highway 157 bridge between Haughton and Sligo Road.

On Wednesday, some parents voiced their concerns about school buses having to find alternate routes to take students to and from school.

According to DOTD spokesman Cindy Dorfner, the Foxskin Bayou Bridges were built in 1959 out of timber piles.

"Like all bridges in Louisiana, they are inspected on a rotational basis varying from every two years to as frequent as every six month," said Dorfner.

Dorfner says while the situation requires urgent attention, the bridge is perfectly safe for those traveling in vehicles within the posted weight limit.

"It is a drastic shutdown for this community," said Howard Moore, who owns an oilfield company, that runs big trucks up and down this road everyday. "One of my trucks has already been fined, it was like the day after the signs went up, they didn't even know it was up."

Howard says he wasn't given any warning about the changes, even emergency personnel were taken by surprise. Deputy Fire Chief Robert Rowe, whose district covers the area, didn't find out until the signs were already up.

They are now working to come up with an alternative route, since their fire trucks and ambulances are too heavy to cross the bridge.

"Emergency services in the area are working together to try to provide the best possible protection, given the situation," said Rowe.

As for the lack of notice, Dorfner says because bridge postings happen so frequently, previous notification is not required.

"But, in this case, DOTD notified Bossier Parish, the Haughton Mayor and the school board of this change," said Dorfner, who explained those groups were notified on Friday.

Parish engineer Butch Ford confirms that during a meeting Friday, they were told the changes may happen soon and were advised Wednesday the signs were up.

According to Ford, because it is an urgent safety concern, it is standard procedure in cases like this for signs to go up first, with notification after.

Still, Howard says it doesn't make the situation any less frustrating.

"It's like they are trying to fix all the bridges at one time, that will just stifle and shut us down," said Moore.

Dorfner says the weight limit for the bridges won't go back to normal until the bridges can be replaced.

"At this time, DOTD is working on a plan and gathering materials to get the bridges replaced as expeditiously as possible. The public will be notified before the closure for replacement," she said.

DOTD crews are out enforcing the new weight limit.

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