DOTD looking forward to federal infrastructure funds for NELA roads

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MONROE, La. (KNOE) Everyday, people drive on roads and bridges in Northeast Louisiana. All that driving wears them down.

Courtesy: KNOE 8 News

"[Some bridges] are at the end of their life span," District 5 Administrator Marshall Hill said.

In Northeast Louisiana alone, there are 866 bridges managed by the Department of Transportation and Development. One-hundred and fifteen of them are what they call "structurally deficient" - a term based on the amount of decay, rotting and rust a bridge has. A bridge is structurally deficient when it scores four or lower on a 0-9 scale.

But, DOTD says it's not as bad as it sounds.

"Structurally deficient can mean they just don't meet any new design standards," Hill said. "That doesn't mean they're not safe. It just means they don't meet any new design standards. And eventually, they'll have to be replaced."

Replacing bridges costs money and manpower. Right now, just in District 5, DOTD has 30 active construction projects, totaling more than $118 million. Exactly one-half of those projects cost $1 million or more. The Arkansas Road project alone costs about $32 million. Combine construction costs with daily bridge repairs, and it's no wonder the state's short on funding.

"We close a bridge about once a month," Hill said. "We find something wrong, close the bridge, repair it, and get it back running. But it's getting to a point where we can't do that anymore."

Not without some extra money, which the state's transportation secretary is hopeful it'll get.

"Absolutely," Transportation Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson said. "Recognizing this is a 10-year proposal and $200 billion over 10 years split a whole bunch of ways, doesn't necessarily promise a great deal of money. But any new money is an investment."

A new investment that could help chip away at the state's infrastructure problem.