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Sunshine Bridge

Donaldsonville Bridge

Sunshine Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: October 14, 2019

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
LA-70 Over Mississippi River, LA-18, and LA-44
Rural: St. James Parish, Louisiana: United States
Structure Type
Metal 20 Panel Bolt-Connected Arch, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 10 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Deck Truss, Fixed

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
825 Feet (251.5 Meters)
Structure Length
9,102 Feet (2774.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
56 Feet (17.07 Meters)
5 Main Span(s) and 58 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

Although a late example of a cantilever truss bridge, this bridge is noted for its long approaches and its five main span configuration. There is also a single simple deck truss span over LA-18. The other approach spans are steel stringer and girder spans. Shop fasteners on this bridge are rivets, field connections are bolted. In October 2018 a crane barge hit the bottom chord of one of the main spans of this bridge. The crash severely bent and smashed the bottom chord, although it did not break. Engineers noted that this fracture critical bridge, on paper, should have collapsed the bridge given the failure of a major member on this truss. However, as much as engineers like to condemn truss bridges as fracture critical, the truth is that failure of one member on a truss bridge is not a guarantee of total collapse. This bridge is a good example of that. The name of this bridge is not a reference to the weather (which was certainly not sunny when field visited), rather it refers to the song "You are My Sunshine." Nick Boppel provided the following information: The bridge was constructed while renowned Louisiana singer and songwriter-turned-governor Jimmie Davis was in office. David rose to popularity as a singer with his hit song "You are My Sunshine". As governor, Davis was one of the strongest supporters of the bridge construction, as well as the proposed Arcadian Thruway (the toll highway that was meant to connect New Orleans with Lafayette while bypassing Baton Rouge). Obviously, the Arcadian Thruway was never built, but the Sunshine Bridge was a major component of the proposed project. When a name for the bridge was being sought, the then-retired Governor David declined an offer to have the named directly for him, and therefore it was named the "Sunshine Bridge" in reference to Davis' popular song (as there was strong support to memorize Davis with the bridge in some way shape or form).

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic Bridge Management Plan For This Bridge

Above: Historical photo showing bridge construction.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Sunshine Bridge

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Maps and Links: Sunshine Bridge

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