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DOTD addresses deadly crash on Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

Posted at 10:49 PM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 23:51:35-04

As of 10 p.m. Monday night, the interstate remains closed in both directions on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.

One person was killed and at least four were injured in a fiery crash Monday afternoon that involved several vehicles, including 18-wheelers.

Eastbound traffic is being diverted north to I-49, and westbound traffic is being diverted at the Lobdell exit where drivers will then take Highway 190.

State police say two of the tankers involved in the crash were hauling hazardous materials.

According to DOTD, once crews clear the scene, they will then do a visual inspection of the bridge to determine if it is safe for the bridge to reopen.

"If we can tell everything is okay with the visual inspection, we'll open it back up to traffic," said DOTD District Administrator Bill Oliver. "If we're not sure of the visual inspection, we may use other testing methods to see if the structure is still sound."

In its nearly fifty years since its construction, the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge has seen its fair share of crashes and vehicle fires, making some worry about how safe it is.

Oliver says since they've started construction on the interstate, DOTD has done some work to lessen the chance a crash occurs.

"We've actually widened the entrance to the basin bridge to accommodate with the interstate project, the six-lane project," explained Oliver. "So, that would increase the safety of the approaches to the bridge because we've had a few accidents right there."

However, he insists safety starts with the driver.

"The safety on the rest of the bridge is just about people paying attention, truck drivers and all keeping aware of what's going on on the bridge," said Oliver. "We have all the devices and striping in place for them to use."

At this time, there is no time frame of when the bridge will reopen.