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City blockades Tigerland construction site amid viral videos of partygoers falling into pit

9 months 2 weeks 2 days ago Wednesday, December 08 2021 Dec 8, 2021 December 08, 2021 5:03 PM December 08, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - City officials have set up fencing around a construction site at the entrance of Tigerland after videos showed people falling into a pit while trying to reach their favorite bars over the weekend. 

Several videos posted over the weekend showed bargoers trying, and failing in some cases, to cross the spot where the Bob Petit Boulevard bridge once stood. The bridge, which spanned a drainage canal along Nicholson Drive, was over 50 years old and had to be demolished for safety reasons, city officials said. 

"I know two people went to the hospital Friday night," said Marc Fraioli, who owns Fred's Bar & Grill. "What we thought would happen did happen."

When asked about the fencing, which went up late Wednesday afternoon, a Baton Rouge spokesperson told WBRZ the city-parish was taking additional "security measures" at the site.

The fencing was installed hours after Mockler Beverage organized an online fundraiser to raise money for a pedestrian bridge while construction continues. Bud Light donated the first $5,000

"It says that the public and that the customers are interested in having a pedestrian bridge," Darin Adams, owner of Reggie's, said.

Bar owners have been pushing for that temporary bridge at the site. City officials said the adjacent railroad property would make building a temporary crossing difficult and that it likely wouldn't get approval before the new permanent bridge is finished.

"To be honest with you, I think prospects ... for the bridge -- the pedestrian bridge -- are pretty slim," Jeffrey Vaccaro of The House in Tigerland said. "We're fully anticipating this fence being the last measure taken."

After Mockler's announcement Wednesday, the city-parish referred WBRZ to a previous statement on a potential footbridge. 

As work is now underway to replace the bridge on Bob Pettit Boulevard, City-Parish will continue to emphasize the need to safely access the area from Brightside Avenue. At the same time, City-Parish is continuing to have conversations with area businesses about their proposed alternatives like a pedestrian bridge. It is unlikely regulators or the railroad company would approve such a project in a timely manner, but City-Parish will continue to work with the business owners to potentially pursue the option. The bridge is being replaced because of safety concerns, and the new structure will be more durable and allow for better drainage. City-Parish is considering additional security measures at the construction site.

The city-parish said it expects construction on the new bridge to be completed by summer 2022. 

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