NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Drivers traveling through New Orleans this weekend and through Thanksgiving week might need to plan ahead as traffic lanes I-10 eastbound on the High Rise are expected to remain closed.
Department of Transportation inspectors say two girders holding the bridge up were so severely damaged in Wednesday's tire fire they need to be replaced. Until the replacement is finished, contractors with Boh Brothers will construct a support tower underneath the interstate.
"They're going to erect the structure that is going to support both the deck and those two girders to support the weight of the loads on top of the bridge," DOTD's Scott Boyle said.
The Friday commute headed east through the city tested drivers' patience and their knowledge of the city's back roads.
"It took me about an hour and a half to get to Slidell yesterday," driver Alex Neil said.
Driver Mike Nami packed five people in his SUV to head to the LSU Football game in Tennessee in Saturday.
He traveled down Leon C. Simon near the lake instead of taking the interstate but even there traffic was an issue.
"We've been a half a mile in about 15-20 minutes," he said.
Two lanes of traffic remained closed on the high rise Friday, and while the support work is ongoing, only the far right lane will remain open.
DOTD calls the damage significant and hopes additional lanes can open before Thanksgiving.
"There's superficial damage on the piers but the girders have some delimitation of the concrete, which means the concrete separated into layers and there's steel in there that provides strength that was affected from the high temperatures of the fire Wednesday," Boyle said.
There is still no word on how the illegally dumped tires caught fire Wednesday night.