Posted: May 19, 2014 4:01 PM by Troy Gaulden
Updated: May 19, 2014 6:46 PM
GROSSE TETE - With the Grosse Tete bridge now open, residents are glad they do not have to use alternatives to cross the Intracoastal Canal.
Michael Vitale says it's like night and day now that the state reopened the Grosse Tete Bridge, which was damaged by a barge Feb. 28.
"You can go to the store now. Before you had to go 60 miles to go to the store, or take the boat... or take the ferry," he said.
It was expected to take six months to repair the damage, but the Department of Transportation and Development opened the bridge on May 17, 45 days early. DOTD says good weather, an emergency contract and hard work by the contractor led to the early opening.
"You couldn't have asked for anything better and you have to give thanks to the parish president, the sheriff, Wildlife and Fisheries, everybody that donated everything, and I'm thanking them. Everybody in the community is thanking them," said Vitale.
While the bridge was closed, residents had to drive around 40 extra minutes to get to the other side of the canal. Then Iberville Parish leaders constructed a makeshift ferry landing to bring people across the canal while contractors worked to fix the bridge.
"With the ferry you had to come back and you get here and you have to unload out of the boat and on to something to get to your house. It's like triple the work," said Vitale.
Looking back on the past few months residents say the community grew stronger.
"Everybody made out, and they learned something. I think in a way they had a good time," said Vitale.
Although the bridge is open to traffic contractors are working to install timbers on the outside of the bridge.