Towering 150 feet over the Mississippi River, the 32-year-old Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge will begin getting a $24 million upgrade in early October.
C.E.C. Inc. of Lafayette, which specializes in bridge work and earlier worked on the bridge joints, won the bid by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).
The company will begin the project by doing minor improvements to the cable-stayed or suspension bridge until February when it will begin major work, said Glenn Dupuis, C.E.C. project manager who has mostly managed bridge projects since 1979. The targeted completion date for the work is summer of next year.
The DOTD project mainly calls for deck overlay and repairs, draining structures, laying new asphalt, patching pavement, bridge repairs, steel deck epoxy underlayment, as well as installing steel-fiber reinforced concrete overlay.
“The gist of the project is to remove the asphalt deck or road surface and replace it with a concrete surface,” Dupuis said. C.E.C. will use an estimated 2,300 cubic yards of the steel-fiber reinforced concrete on the bridge.
A steel-fiber reinforced concrete deck will be more durable, which is critical when traffic has steadily grown to 52,000 vehicles crossing the bridge on work days, he said.
The bridge is part of Interstate 310 through St. Charles Parish. The structure connected Louisiana Highway 18 on the West Bank and Louisiana Highway 48 on the East Bank initially. Ten years later, the bridge was incorporated into the newly completed I-310.
“We’re assembling materials and getting our ducks in a row this month,” Dupuis said. “Some miscellaneous steel work is being done in the steel structure, and we’ll be preparing some crossovers for the routing of traffic.”
Bridge traffic will likely not be altered during the minor work, he said. C.E.C. will require temporary lane closures to place equipment on the structure, but Dupuis said the closures should occur evenings and nights.
Opened on Oct. 6, 1983, the $135 million Hale Boggs Bridge is 10,700 feet long with its longest span at 1,220 feet. It was designed by Modjeski and Masters Inc. of Harrisburg, Pa., and Frankland & Lienhard and constructed by a team led by Williams Brothers Construction Co. Inc., Houston. It was the first high-level, long-span cable-stay bridge built in the U.S. and has twin 350-foot-tall, modified A-frame pylons.
One of the most famous of this type bridge is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif.
Calling the structure “an icon,” Dupuis said the Hale Boggs Bridge design was considered experimental and was the first of its kind built in the region and only the third major bridge of its type built in the U.S. at the time. It was also the first bridge of its kind added to the interstate highway system.
Dupuis said its cable-stayed design allows for lighter materials, like steel-fiber reinforced concrete that also saves on cost.
The structure also was designed to resist hurricane force wind, which was demonstrated when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
The Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge, also known as the Luling Bridge, has had design problems.
The prefabricated cables by a Swiss manufacturer featured a heavy polyethylene sheathing that began cracking before installation, leading to moisture intrusion and cable deterioration. Additional problems arose with rust and water leakage in the anchorages, which initiated a replacement project in 2009.
By 2012, the $30.5 million project to replace the bridge’s 72 support cables was completed.
Despite the problems, Dupuis observed of the bridge, “She’s pretty darn strong. She’s structurally sound.”