18-Wheeler Falls Off of Pontoon Bridge in Estherwood
It seems that we hear this news way too often - but now we know why it happens.
The pontoon bridge in Estherwood is closed. Again.
Sometimes it is closed due to rising waters, as the nature of a pontoon bridge is that it floats.
Other times, it's because an 18-wheeler fell off of the danged thing. That's what happened today.
Keith Kuffler sent us some photos of the latest incident - the 18-wheeler that fell from the bridge around 9:45 this morning.
The last time this happened wasn't that long ago: September of 2022 - and it was the same situation - an 18-wheeler fell from the bridge.
So what makes this occur? It appears that some believe the trucks fall off of the bridge because they aren't centered properly.
After all, this bridge is floating, and, as you know, when you put more weight on one side of something that is floating - kersplash!
It's a good thing that the Mermentau River isn't very deep, right?
That's what the comments on the post suggest - the bridge leans to one side if the weight isn't (near) centered.
One would assume that it's the reason the bridge is one lane.
Did the lean of the bridge or speed play a factor in this incident? For one thing, the speed limit on the bridge is almost "Crawl".
I am no engineer, nor an expert on the acceleration rates of different vehicles, but I would imagine it would be very easy for that truck to achieve a speed of over 5 MPH on that bridge.
We spoke to Thomas Gossen with the Louisiana State Police about this situation.
He told us that a crash like this is not common.
Aa number of trucks like these cross this bridge safely each week, we believe that speed and weight could be a factor in this incident.
When I asked him to explain, I learned something about the bridge: only part of it floats. And it's not hinged at the banks, it's hinged several yards away from the banks.
The bridge only floats in the middle, but it goes up/down as vehicles enter/exit. As the too-heavy/too fast load goes forward, the bridge dips from its weight and is lower than the non-floating section of the bridge. When and overweight vehicle travels to fast and hits the stable , non-floating portion, it damages the front wheels and/or steering components, rendering the vehicle unable to be effectively controlled. - Trooper Thomas Gossen, LSP
So, there it is: the likelihood of this happening is much lower when 1) the speed limit is respected, and 2) the truck is within the weight limits.
The weight limits for the bridge are clearly posted - and I'm guessing he wasn't trying to fish.
Reactions from the internet follow:
I'll hand the benefit of the doubt out here - maybe it was the driver's first time crossing a pontoon bridge?
In any case, the detour for this situation is easy-peasy, but it's not short-and-sweet: it's either west to Jennings or east to Crowley.
Let's hope there were no injuries and that the bridge can be reopened again soon.