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Judson Walsh Bridge in Opelousas likely won’t open until mid-2020

Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 18:49:41-04

KATC is getting answers about the Judson Walsh Bridge closure in Opelousas.

The bridge was closed indefinitely in the fall after an inspection showed it was severely eroded.

Now city, parish and state officials are working together to replace the bridge, coming with an almost $1 million price tag.

The bridge, sitting between I-49 and LA-182, was heavily used by residents, school buses and other drivers.

“I live right up the hill and have been living there for over 30 years,” said Patrick Morrow, who used to take the bridge daily, but now takes a 5 minute detour with several turns. “That was my route home, get off of I-49 which didn’t take very long. Now, I do have to detour into the neighborhood.”

Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor says they’re working with state and parish officials to totally re-construct the bridge.

“It was a safety issue. It’s not going to be an overnight repair. The water, the sewage, the utility lines, all that has to be done preliminarily before the actual work that needs to be done on the bridge of uprooting the bridge and replacing the bridge as we see it today,” said the mayor.

Bids for that work are already out and will cost the city about $150-170,000. Entergy has started some work on the utilities but the city council will chose a company for the rest in May.

Bids for the actual construction, paid for by the state and parish, will go out sometime in June. Alsandor estimates that to cost between $500-750,000.

The detour has also been causing issues for the school board’s bus routes. More than a dozen school buses would use the bridge daily to pick up kids and go to Opelousas High which is a few blocks away.

“We haven’t been able to use it for about two years and that’s due to the weight limits of the bus, the bus technically exceeds the weight limit so we have to detour through the neighborhood and it probably inconvenienced the neighbors in that area too because its more traffic than their accustomed to,” said St. Landry Parish School Board’s director of transportation, Milton Batiste.

“It has really caused chaos. Trying to go home around 3 o’clock or leave around 7:30-8 o’clock in the morning, it definitely adds time to your commute,” said Morrow.

Officials say the bridge likely won’t re-open until middle to late 2020.