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Another bridge closure in northern EBR concerning residents

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GREENWELL SPRINGS - Multiple bridge closures in the northern part of East Baton Rouge Parish have some residents concerned for their safety. They're worried about emergency services and how they'll get to them if and when they're needed.

Ted Powell lives on Stoney Point Birch Road and says Tuesday the bridge was barricaded off to drivers.

"We're trapped," said Powell. "If we have to get somebody down here on this end, they have to go all the way down to Liberty Road to Greenwell Springs road and come back up another four and a half miles."

The bridge closure cuts of Powell's access to everything on the west side of him. He'll have to make a large detour to get around. It's not about the inconvenience for Powell, it's the concern for his safety and the safety of his neighbors since it will add another 10-15 miles for emergency vehicles to get to them.

"If anyone has a heart attack EMS has to go all the way down, back up and in," he said.

The City-Parish says the bridge recently failed inspection and one of the pilings need to be replaced. The bridge was already at its lowest posted weight limit of five tons.

Powell says the bridge closure wouldn't be so bad if another bridge about four miles down the road on Alphonse Forbes Road was also closed. That bridge was closed on Feb. 12, 2016.

Like Stoney Point Birch Road, Alphonse Forbes Road is a thoroughfare during an emergency. Now that both of them are closed, the Pride Volunteer Fire Department says it expects to add 15-20 minutes to response times to get to people like Powell in the case of an emergency.

"So what do we do," said Powell. "We just hope."

The City-Parish says it maintains over 300 bridges and has $1.4 million in the budget for bridge repairs, replacements and building costs each year. It says it has the material to make repairs to Stoney Point Birch Road, but it does not have the manpower to install those repairs until another project is finished on East State Street. The bridge on Alphonse Forbes Road needs to be completely replaced. The City-Parish hopes to design it in the next six months and estimate the costs to reach $900,000.

"People are going to be inconvienced, but we don't want people driving on the bridge and have it fall in," said Director of Transportation and Drainage Fred Raiford.

A list of bridge closures in East Baton Rouge Parish can be found here.

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