The Dangers of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

In the event of a severe automobile collision occurring on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, individuals may incur substantial medical expenses and experience a reduction in income due to the inability to work.

Individuals who have sustained injuries as a result of a driver’s negligence, particularly when caused by distraction, may potentially be qualified to seek reparation for the damages incurred.

Based on a report published in 2019 by the Advocate, it has been observed that the aforementioned bridge has been the location of more than 1,000 incidents between the years 2014 and the time of the report’s publication.

 

How Do I Describe the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge?

Atchafalaya Basin Bridge
Picture of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, alternatively referred to as the Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge consists of two parallel bridges located in the state of Louisiana.

These bridges serve as a transportation route between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, facilitating the passage of Interstate 10 over the Atchafalaya Basin.

The bridge in question is the third longest in the United States, the second longest among bridges on the interstate system, and the fourteenth largest in the world with a total length of 96,095 feet (29,290 m; 18 mi; 29 km).

The bridge was made accessible to the general public in the year 1973, with reports indicating that the commencement of construction took place in 1971.

Upon its construction, the bridge in question held the distinction of being the second longest in the United States, with the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge being the only structure surpassing it in length.

The bridge has two exits, specifically designated for Whiskey Bay (Louisiana Highway 975) and Butte La Rose (LA 3177) respectively.

Although the bridges maintain a parallel alignment for the majority of their span, they converge at the points where they cross the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel and the Atchafalaya River.

According to the latest available data from 2015, the average daily traffic count is 30,420 cars.

Frequent accidents are observed near the two river crossings due to their limited width and absence of shoulders.

The occurrence of accidents on the bridge can pose challenges due to the low population density in the Atchafalaya Basin region.

In the year 1999, the speed limit on the bridge was reduced by Governor Mike Foster from 70 to 60 miles per hour (115 to 95 kilometres per hour).

The implementation of new traffic laws for the bridge took place in 2003 by the legislative actions of the Louisiana Legislature.

The speed restriction for tractor-trailers with 18 wheels has been reduced to 55 mph (90 km/h), and they are required to stay in the right lane when traversing the bridge.

 

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How Do I Describe the History of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge?

The public was granted access to the bridge in the year 1973.

In the year 1989, the legislative body of Louisiana undertook the task of renaming the bridge, bestowing upon it the title of the Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge, as a gesture of homage to the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army.

During the period of its construction, the bridge held the distinction of being the longest in the nation.

In response to a sequence of motor vehicle incidents resulting in the loss of four lives on the bridge, a decision was made in 1998 to reduce the speed restriction from 70 miles per hour to 60.

The significant frequency of accidents was ascribed to the substantial presence of commercial 18-wheelers utilizing the roadway.

In 2018, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) documented that the bridge experienced a total of 245 incidents, leading to 70 instances of severe injury.

The Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is presently engaged in efforts to enforce strategies aimed at enhancing driver safety.

However, the existing conditions, characterized by limited lanes and high traffic volume, continue to pose a significant risk to motorists.

 

How Do I Describe the Naming of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge?

The establishment of the United States Army Airborne Forces, comprising paratroopers and glider soldiers, was initiated through an executive order.

Subsequently, the formation of the 82nd Airborne Division took place at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, in March 1942.

One of the primary goals of the division, as well as other airborne divisions, was to enable paratroopers and glider-borne forces to capture bridges, which would afterwards facilitate the movement of conventional forces.

In 1988, the 82nd Airborne Division Association challenged its member chapters across all states, urging them to actively seek the designation of a bridge inside their respective states as an Airborne Memorial Bridge.

The Acadiana Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, which was established in January 1980 in Lafayette, Louisiana, and has its headquarters in the same city, successfully petitioned the Louisiana Legislature.

On July 10, 1989, the legislature passed Act 793, resulting in the renaming of the bridge as the Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge.

 

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How Do I Describe the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge?

In September 2010, an inspection revealed that the deck condition rating was deemed satisfactory, with a score of 6 out of 9.

Similarly, the superstructure condition rating and the substructure condition rating were also found to be satisfactory, both with scores of 6 out of 9.

Additionally, the sufficiency rating was determined to be 92.9 out of 100.

 

How Do I Describe the Cameras on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge?

The bridge is equipped with several publicly viewable cameras located at specific mile markers. These cameras are positioned at the west side of the bridge, starting from mile marker 121 (LA 3177) in both east and west directions.

In addition, cameras are set up at the east end of the bridge at mile marker 135 (LA 3000/Ramah Rd. ), at mile marker 124.5 in both directions, at mile 127 (Whiskey Bay and LA 975) in both directions, at mile 131.5 (Butte Larose) in both directions and at the west end of the bridge at mile marker 127.

 

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Conclusion

Given the substantial volume of people utilizing the bridge daily, the likelihood of a severe collision occurring is indeed a tangible prospect.

According to the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), there is an annual average of 197 automobile accidents on this particular roadway.

It has been observed that approximately 70% of these incidents are attributed to drivers who were distracted at the time of the collision (Schmaltz, 2018).

The segment of the bridge that poses a significant hazard is the section comprising the two river crossings, characterized by a reduction in lane width.

The absence of shoulders on this particular segment of the bridge gives rise to particularly perilous circumstances.

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