It seems we hear this news far too often — but now we know why it’s happening.
The pontoon bridge in Estherwood is closed. Again.
Sometimes it is closed due to rising water as a pontoon bridge is naturally floating.
Other times it’s because an 18 wheel fell off the dangerous thing. This happened today.
Keith Kuffler sent us some photos of the latest incident – the 18 wheeled vehicle that fell off the bridge at around 9:45am this morning.
The last time it wasn’t that long ago: In September 2022 – and it was the same situation – an 18-wheeler fell off the bridge.
So what causes this to happen? It seems some believe the trucks are falling off the bridge because they are not properly centered.
After all, this bridge floats, and as you know, when you put more weight on one side of something that floats – Kersplash!
It’s good that the Mermentau isn’t very deep, isn’t it?
That’s what the comments on the post suggest – the bridge will tilt to one side if the weight isn’t (nearly) centered.
One would assume that the bridge is therefore single lane.
Did the slope of the bridge or the speed play a role in this incident? For one thing, the speed limit on the bridge is almost “crawl”.
I’m not an engineer nor an expert on the acceleration rates of different vehicles, but I would imagine that it would be very easy for this truck to go over 5 MPH on this bridge.
We spoke to Thomas Gossen from the Louisiana State Police about this situation.
He told us that a crash like this is not common.
With a number of trucks like this safely crossing this bridge every week, we believe speed and weight could play a role in this incident.
When I asked him for an explanation, I learned something about the bridge: only part of it floats. And it’s not hinged on the banks, it’s hinged several meters from the banks.
The bridge only floats in the middle, but it goes up/down as vehicles enter/exit. If the overweight/fast load goes forward, the bridge will submerge from its weight and be lower than the non-floating section of the bridge. If an overweight vehicle is speeding and hits the stable, non-floating part, it will damage the front wheels and/or steering components, rendering the vehicle ineffective to control. – Soldier Thomas Gossen, LSP
So there it is: This is much less likely to happen if 1) the speed limit is obeyed and 2) the truck is within weight limits.
The weight limits for the bridge are clearly stated – and I suspect he wasn’t trying to fish.
Reactions from the internet follow:
I’ll give the benefit of the doubt here – maybe this was the driver’s first time crossing a pontoon bridge?
In any case, the detour for this situation is a no-brainer, but it’s not short and sweet: either west to Jennings or east to Crowley.
Let’s hope there were no injuries and the bridge can be reopened soon.
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https://kpel965.com/ixp/29/p/18-wheeler-pontoon-bridge-estherwood/ Another 18 wheeler falls off the Pontoon Bridge in Estherwood