DOTD is providing details on what caused the significant damage that shut down the I-10 E overpass at I-49 (Evangeline Thruway).

We spoke to DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson, Ph.D. about the shutdown that has caused major backups, delays, and detours at the I-10/I-49 corridor in Lafayette after the eastbound overpass bridge was struck by an 18-wheeler traveling northbound on Evangeline Thruway.

Wilson said he's never seen a situation like this in his life in the Lafayette area as DOTD continues to assess the damage and will determine the safest path moving forward in terms of repairs based on their ongoing inspections.

While we had Wilson on the air for an interview during the morning show, we shared some of the most frequently asked questions and the DOTD secretary was very informative in his responses.

What exactly happened in the accident for the bridge to sustain such significant damage?

The truck that hit the bridge was carrying an excavator that was positioned higher than he should have had it to travel. He proceeded under both eastbound and westbound structures. According to reports, he was not stopped until Pont Des Mouton. The driver was cited.

How long will I-10 east remain closed at the bridge overpass near I-49?

All lanes of I-10 eastbound will remain closed at I-49 until inspections and load rating is completed Wednesday (Jan 4.), at which time we will be able to determine if I-10 eastbound can be opened at all.

How is I-49 north affected near the damaged section of the overpass bridge that runs overhead?

I-49 north is restricted to one northbound lane as you approach I-10 and the Auxiliary lane that leads to I-10 west will remain open. More will be determined after the inspections regarding additional lanes on I-49 northbound.

What are the best detours for traffic traveling I-10 eastbound?

While the exit to I-49 south (Evangeline Thruway) is open for motorists to make a U-turn at Willow and get back onto I-10 via I-49 north, traffic is severely bottlenecked on that particular detour with congestion backed up for miles.

A better detour would be getting off at earlier I-10E exits (Scott, Ambassador Caffery, University, etc.) and taking other roads like Willow Street, Cameron Street, etc., and driving down to Louisiana Avenue to get back on to I-10 eastbound.

What type of damage are we looking at and what is the realistic timetable for a permanent repair?

There will be a temporary condition on both before a permanent fix is implemented. The lead time for girder manufacturing on a similar interchange is at 2 months. This will not be a "very quick fix" solution, so even in the best-case scenario that I-10 east is reopened at the I-49 (Evangeline Thruway) overpass bridge, there may be weight restrictions, lane closures, etc. depending on what DOTD finds as a result of their inspection on Wednesday (Jan. 4).

Those findings may also lead to restrictions on I-49 (Evangeline Thruway) northbound beneath the damaged overpass as well.

DOTD, Secretary Shawn Wilson, Ph.D.
DOTD, Secretary Shawn Wilson, Ph.D.

Wilson advises motorists to check for more information or head over to MyDOTD and set up an account where they can select I-10 and I-49 to get regular updates on all projects related to those roadways.

You can also check back with us here as we will be relaying information from DOTD on our website and the HOT 107.9 app.

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