WALKER – Work should begin in October to replace the Travis Street Bridge in Walker, one month short of the two-year anniversary of the bridge being closed, a city official said.

And the city will save about a half-million dollars thanks to a federal program, according to Jamie Etheridge, chief of operations.

Etheridge gave the City Council a rundown of the status of bridge projects in the city on Monday.

The Travis Street Bridge is being paired with the George Mashon Bridge in the northeast corner of Livingston Parish under the Off-System Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement Program, he said.

The Off-System Bridge program helps replace and repair bridges with the Federal Highway Administration paying 80 percent and the state covering the remaining 20 percent.

In May, the state Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) awarded a contract of $1,390,511 to replace the bridges.

The Travis Street Bridge will be replaced with a concrete box culvert, Etheridge said.

The contractor will start work first on the Mashon Bridge, a span bridge, then shift over to begin work in Walker, he said.

The Travis Street work should take 120 days, he said.

While it has been almost two years since the bridge was closed, Etheridge said the opportunity to get a replacement without having to pay $500,000 could not be passed up.

“We could have paid for it, but that is a lot of money we can put to other uses,” Etheridge said. “It was a chance to get a bridge for free.”

The Travis Street Bridge was order closed by DOTD in November 2017 because of deterioration of the wood structure.

In 2018, the city submitted the bridge to the federal program, overseen by DOTD, but had to pull its request.

A replacement bridge would have been larger than the wooden bridge to meet DOTD requirements, but the city had problems locating some landowners, Etheridge said then.

The city tried to track down the descendants of the original owners, some living in other states, but had little success.

The engineering firm working for the city redesigned the bridge to take up less space to reduce the number of landowners affected and earlier this year the bridge was re-submitted to the program.

For other bridge projects, Etheridge said the city is waiting for permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Brown Street and Elm Street bridges.

The city also is waiting for clearance from CN Railroad to complete the Keith Street bridge, which is three culverts that drain Dumpling Creek under the CN railroad tracks.

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