Posted: Mar 3, 2014 5:29 PM by Troy Gaulden
Updated: Mar 3, 2014 6:52 PM
GROSSE TETE - Iberville Parish leaders said Monday they're making travel across the Intracoastal Canal their top priority.
The heavily traveled bridge can no longer safely support vehicles after a barge struck it Friday night. A typically 20-minute drive into Plaquemine now takes some people more than an hour.
That's a concern for parents in lower Iberville Parish like Rebecca Sanchez, who has to get her kids to school.
"I would have to get them up at about 5 o'clock in the morning, get them ready, and drive them over an hour around, then come back home, turn around, and do it again when they get off from school," she said.
Sanchez and other Grosse Tete residents want another way to cross the canal.
"Hopefully they'll have something done by this week. Maybe that way it will be easier next week for parents to get their children to school. But they have to go to school. We have to do something. They need to get on it and get it done now," Sanchez said.
Parish leaders met with the state recently to come up with a plan to get docks and ramps to help ferry people across the canal safely. Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. told News 2 that the parish has a backup plan just in case.
"If we hear from the state today and we don't know or we don't agree with it, I'm sure we're ready to go and try to get this done in the next day or two," he said.
The parish's contingency plan would be to build ramps or a dock to safely get people to the other side of the canal. Residents would board a ferry on foot and travel back and forth, leaving a vehicle on the Plaquemine side of the canal. Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi says a deputy would ensure that vehicles were not left unattended.
The school board says buses will pick children up at the normal times, and the kids who get to school late will be excused. The buses would then leave schools earlier in the afternoon to allow for the extra travel time.
Superintendent Ed Cancienne said they'll follow the detour until another plan is devised by the state or parish. But some residents are tackling crossing the canal on their own in the meantime.
"My dad has a boat in the bayou right here, and he's going to ferry across my children, my brother's children and a couple of the neighbors also asked if their children can ride across, because we can't afford to drive that way around," Sanchez said.
The Department of Transportation and Development said repairs to the bridge will take a minimum of two to three months.