Sunshine Bridge closure hurts sugar cane farmers
SORRENTO - The closure of the Sunshine Bridge near Donaldsonville couldn't come at a worse time for sugar cane farmers on the east side of the Mississippi River. Harvest season just began and all the cane must be transported to sugar mills on the west side of the river.
"My harvesting costs are going to increase approximately three times," said sugar cane farmer Pete Dufresne.
Friday the Sunshine Bridge was closed after it was struck by a passing barge carrying a crane. Repairs are expected to last months.
Dufresne's 4,300 acres of fields are expected to produce 82,000-tons of sugar cane between now and December. What was an 18-mile trip to the sugar mill has turned into a 52-mile detour across the Veterans Bridge to the south in Gramercy.
"We had to hire extra drivers to keep up," he said.
Sugar sells at a fixed price. Dufresne said he'll have to absorb the added costs this year.