Broken bridge causes big problems for commuters in Grosse Tete

Photo provided by Anne Robichaux.
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POSTED: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 10:20am

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 11:53am

People who depend on the La. 77 bridge over the intracoastal or Grosse Tete bridge will have to wait two months or more for the bridge totally fixed. DOTD officials say a barge hit the bridge on Friday and caused severe damage. Now DOTD officials said in a release: "repairs are expected to take 60 to 90 days minimum to complete." People who use the bridge say that is too long to wait.

"Why didn't they start Saturday. I understand it's the weekend, but I consider this an emergency. I'm sure everyone around here does too," Sammi Hyatt, Grosse Tete resident, said.

Business owners say they'll also feel the pain of dealing with a damaged bridge.

"Oh terrible," Joyce Guy, who owns a business with facilities on both sides of the Intracoastal Canal, said. "I can't imagine the amount of time we're going to spend driving round and round just to get to the office to the warehouse and back."

The bridge connected residents to Plaquemine. Now if they want to get around the Intracoastal they have to drive around 50 miles out of their way.

Guy people living in Grosse Tete will have a hard time getting the goods and services they need.

"My parents are 85 and 86 years old," Guy said. "We live two miles from the bridge. There are no doctors or anything on this side. There is no grocery stores or anything."

Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said it's not the first time the bridge has been hit, but this time the damage is worse than ever.

"We've had the aprons or what they call the bumpers torn up on occasion, but this went through the bumpers and it did some damage to the support of the actual cement part," Stassi said.

Stassi went on to say, "{It} pushed the bumpers back, hit the structure, the concrete structure, damaged 8 pillars underneath and moved that last section of the the cement over 6-8 inches."

DOTD officials said they are "working to execute an emergency contract to expedite repairs to the bridge. "

People who depend on the bridge say it's not happening soon enough.

Another big problem for people living in Grosse Tete will be getting kids across the intracoastal for class after the Mardi Gras holiday. Parents say their students may be stuck on a bus for extra time just to get school.

"Especially leap testing is in two weeks and that really worries me she's in the fourth grade, so this counts and that's really worrying me," Hyatt said.

People in Grosse Tete want to see officials put in a ferry as a temporary fix.

"They should put in a ferry or something," Hurley Henson, who lives near the bridge, said. "...That way we could get a our kids across and we could go to work."

"They have options," Ruby Kelley, Grosse Tete resident, stated. "4,5,6 car ferry even that would help. Even if they only used it for the kids you know to get them back and fourth."

Stassi said parish officials are waiting on word from the DOTD on what leaders there will do to help people get across. Otherwise, parish officials will step in.

"Plan B between the parish president and myself we will have us a ferry one way or the other," Stassi exclaimed.

Grosse Tete residents say more needs be done to keep them in the loop.

"Well I think that they need to keep us informed. We are citizens of the parish and that we shouldn't be neglected. Our children shouldn't be neglected," Anne Robichaux, Grosse Tete resident, said.

DOTD officials recommend the following routes to get around the broken bridge: "The detour from the east side of the bridge (closest to Plaquemine) is La. 77 toward Plaquemine, north on La. 1, west on I-10, then take the La. 77 Grosse Tete exit. From the west side (closest to Grosse Tete), take La. 77 to I-10 eastbound, exit La. 1 southbound toward Plaquemine to La. 77."

DOTD Officials also say: "Motorists can access the latest updates on real-time traffic and road conditions using the 511 Traveler Information System by dialing 511 from their telephone and saying the route or region about which they are seeking information."

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