The Intracoastal Canal bridge on La. Hwy. 1 remains broken.
After a weight restriction on the canal bridge for 15-25 ton trucks, commerce on the West Side is slowing for businesses.
West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Hanks said small businesses are also experiencing the squeeze.
“A lot of people think it’s just the industrial manufacturers,” she said. “A lot of ‘mom and pops’ are also being affected,”
Grocery stores, restaurants and home builders are also having to reroute their shipments of supplies along a lengthy detour, she said. Garbage disposal trucks at Republic Services are also being rerouted.
The detour guides vehicles along Interstate 10 with river crossings at the Sunshine Bridge near Donaldsonville and on the Horace Wilkinson Bridge in Port Allen.
One local food distributor added four hours to his drive on a Friday night during rush hour traffic after driving from St. James Parish to the Intracoastal, Hanks said.
The weight restriction was announced on March 31 with little warning to the parish from the DOTD. The DOTD discovered cracks in 40 of the steel angles beneath the bridge, which prompted the closure.
Deficiencies in the angles can occur over time, DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett said.
“[The DOTD] is now fully mobilized to the site,” laying out mats acquiring material and prepping the steel, Mallett said on Tuesday, April 11.
Assuming the DOTD does not find more deficiencies on the bridge, the Department estimated repairs will take two months and cost $2 million, he said.
Approximately 50,801 vehicles cross the bridge everyday, according to a 2016 traffic count by DOTD. That number is up by almost 4,000 since a 2013 traffic count.
The chamber is talking one-on-one with business owners to understand the impacts of the road restrictions. The parish government is also working to alleviate the situation.
Business owners who want to voice their concerns can contact Hanks via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.