Council says bayou bridge will finally come downSep 12th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: News
The Parish Council voted favorably on the latest version of a resolution to remove a bridge along Bayou Terre aux Bouef, a bridge proving more than a nuisance at this point, but a potential safety hazard.
The bridge that crosses from the main stretch of St. Bernard Highway, allowing access to private properties across the waterway, has been in place since the 1970’s.
The bridge itself is a nonpermanent structure and has proven a bit of a quagmire to residents and parish officials. Some are calling for the removal for better access for boats along the waterway; others do not want to remove the only roadway.
In the recent rainfalls and storms, the water levels have risen to overtake highways and the bridge prevented residents along the bayou from evacuating.
Now the Coast Guard is preparing to cite the Parish some $25,000 a day for every day the bridge remains. It appears that the bridge was never permitted through the Coast Guard.
However, even if the Parish removes the bridge, that still leaves the government with the predicament of how to satisfy the landowners who live on the bayou frontage side of the bridge to be removed.
The half-hour discussion rehashed most of the year-and-a-half long debate brought to the Council by residents in April 2010. Tommy Nunez and others took to the podium and confronted the Council on the issue once more.
“At the August meeting, I came here and I was told, ‘It’s going to be removed before the weekend,’” Nunez said, quoting the response he’d received publicly. “The bridge is still there. It’s been a year-and-a-half and every two weeks I hear the bridge is coming out.”
The item for that evening called for a three phase plan that put dates to the long impending demolition. The resolution also called for the assessment and right-of-way preparation for building a road though the area as a substitute for the bridge. However, that idea met quickly with resistance.
“We have to make our move,” Councilman-at-Large East Wayne Landry said. “But lets do it in a way that makes sense.” Landry continued to say that the idea of a road was too much money to benefit a handful of private landowners. “I want a dollars-and-cents solution.”
Landry’s alternative was to offer to purchase the one property immediately opposite the bridge, or to swap land with that one landowner.
District D Councilman Mike Ginart commented that given the number of landowners on the opposite side of the bridge, offering a land swap or purchase to only one property owner could pose a problem.
Through all the suggestions and possible alternatives for access, the Council decided the most prudent course was to prevent the Coast Guard fines by removing the bridge. Later, they could begin negotiations and talks on how to mitigate the effect on those landowners.
“Let’s take the bridge out and solve the problem [of access] later,” said District C representative Kenneth Henderson.
By the Council’s unanimous decision, the process of removing the bridge will start on September 16.