September 2016


Louisiana Opts for Pre-Engineered Acrow Structures
for Bridge Replacements in Terrebonne Parish

By Eugene Sobecki
     National Sales Manager, Acrow Bridge


As a result of growing concerns about structurally deficient bridges, Louisiana has become more exacting with its safety standards and structural requirements for both state- and parish-owned bridges. So when inspections by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LA DOTD) revealed critical deficiencies in bridges in the towns of Houma and Gibson in Terrebonne Parish, both structures were closed.

In each case, the timber piles of the old bridges were failing and could no longer

handle even typical vehicular traffic. Because repairs to the existing bridges were not possible, Acrow 700XS truss panel bridges were selected to replace them. Acrow’s prefabricated panel bridges provided a simple design, reduced installation time and overall project costs, while meeting and exceeding the load and design requirements. 

The Buquet Street bridge in Houma serves as a vital east-west connection across Bayou Terrebonne. Houma is the parish seat of Terrebonne Parish, and enjoys a brisk tourist trade. Downtown Houma is listed as a significant historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers a downtown walking tour and attractions such as the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum, the Folklife Culture Center, the Regional Military Museum and the Southdown Plantation. 

After the Buquet Street bridge closure, the parish president signed a Certification of Public Emergency for the bridge’s immediate return to service to ensure the safety of motorists, workers and mariners. The bridge was built in 1968 with a five-span concrete deck bridge on timber piles, and was replaced with a 90-foot-long Acrow bridge with a 24-foot-wide roadway, an integrated guide rail system with a TL-2 load rating, and a 5-foot-wide cantilevered walkway.

The North Bayou Black Drive bridge over the Donner Canal is located in the more rural town of Gibson. Built in 1962, it was like the Buquet Street bridge consisting of a concrete deck on timber piles. While it is in a fairly remote location, owing to the fact that a nearby bridge was also closed at the time of this bridge’s closure, returning it to service was particularly critical.

When it was determined that with both bridges impassable, the response time for emergency vehicles to a community just north of the structure would be increased from 3 minutes to 16 minutes, a public emergency was declared in order to avoid public safety issues, and the replacement project was approved.

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The deficient structure was replaced with a 70-foot-long by 24-foot-wide Acrow panel bridge with a TL-2 guide rail. Both Acrow bridges include deck panels that distribute loads efficiently, with an epoxy aggregate non-skid deck surface that is durable and long lasting.

Gray Contracting acted as contractor for the Buquet Street bridge and SeaLevel Construction installed the North Bayou Black Drive bridge. The design engineer for both bridges was Providence/Gulf South Engineers Associates, LLC. Both projects were completed in October 2015, only 6 months after the bridges were ordered closed by LA DOTD.

In addition to allowing for an expedited replacement, another benefit to using Acrow’s pre-engineered structures for these jobs was the ability of the bridges to completely span the waterways below – an important factor in the low-lying areas of Louisiana, where waterways are prone to flooding and debris is often caught in the multiple pier piles of the old bridge designs. The Acrow design eliminated these piers, allowing flowing water to carry debris under the single span, eliminating the need to clear it.

Perry Blanchard, Terrebonne Parish’s public works operations manager, said, “The Acrow bridges provided a simple design, quick installation and a long life expectancy. They meet and exceed the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s load and design requirements. Acrow met all of our requirements, and the Acrow Bridge staff was always very helpful with answering our questions from the first call to project completion.”

Acrow’s prefabricated modular steel bridges are a perfect choice when a cost-effective and rapid permanent bridging solution is needed. Their customizable components can be engineered for many different applications, have an estimated life span of 75-100 years and are virtually maintenance-free.

Acrow Bridge has been serving the transportation and construction industries for more than 60 years with a full line of modular steel bridging solutions for vehicle, rail, vessel, military and pedestrian use. Acrow’s extensive international presence includes its leadership in the development and implementation of bridge infrastructure projects in over 80 countries, covering Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.

Eugene Sobecki is based in Acrow’s Parsippany, N.J., headquarters. He can be reached at or

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