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Bridge repairs held up without federal funding

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DENHAM SPRINGS - A year since the flood here and people are getting restless about why some highway repairs haven't been done. There's a roadblock in Livingston Parish and some people feel like they've been forgotten.

A bridge in Denham Springs on River Road near Hwy. 16 has been closed since last August. Livingston Parish OEP Director Mark Harrell says the parish is counting on the feds to cover the costs, but so far the money has not been granted.

The bridge is closed because of severe structural damage and it's been closed since a few days after the August 2016 flood. Jeff Singleton lives feet away from the road closed signs and says he's been waiting patiently for any action to be taken.

"They need to get it done, get it taken care of," he said.

for the last two decades, Singleton says he's lived on River Road. His family lives on one side of the bridge and his in-laws live on the other. It used to take a few seconds to walk to their house, but with the bridge out the trip is a lot longer.

"Now I have to go all the way around town and come on the other side of the bridge to check on them," he said.

Some days, Singleton doesn't get his mail delivered. Other days, the garbage truck misses him. He's the only house on the north end of the bridge.

"I went two to three weeks without them picking up my garbage before they would come and get it," he said.

For the past year, Singleton has watched as drivers turn around in his driveway. He says it's tearing up his asphalt and front yard.

It's definitely not something he needs, as he continues to repair his flood-damaged home.

"We need help, we need this bridge fixed," said Singleton.

The Federal Highway Administration says the original damage assessment was first sent to FEMA in November 2016. Livingston Parish was notified in February 2017 that the bridge was located on a federal aid route and would not be eligible for FEMA funding.

DOTD confirms River Road is a parish route that will be using federal funding and because it is, the project has to meet state and federal standards. DOTD has reviewed plans and submitted comments to Livingston Parish. It says it's currently waiting on those revised plans from a Livingston Parish consultant.

The parish is hoping the FHWA will grant 100 percent of the costs to the parish. Plans include replacing the bridge with concrete box culverts. The FHWA says the work will be reimbursed at 80 percent federal participation.

While DOTD has not submitted authorization yet, the FHWA says it's been told the project is scheduled to go out for bid in December.

LADOTD has received $12 million for the August 2016 flood event so far under the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program and is expected to receive more.

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