Bridge on N. River Road impassable since 2016 flood, drivers demanding answers
DENHAM SPRINGS - A bridge on North River Road was used by hundreds of Livingston Parish residents daily, but the 2016 flood destroyed it. All that remains is a giant, gaping hole.
"It's been out since the flood," said Trey Lynn. "It's been years since any one has even worked on it."
Lynn has been dealing with the inconvenience of going around it for two years.
"It's just super annoying driving all the way down, and there's always a cop sitting right here at the store, waiting for someone to come down the one-way."
Livingston Parish councilman John Wascom has been receiving angry phone calls about it for months.
"You know, look, it's been a year now, when are we going to get these bridge back open?" said Wascom, describing the calls he's been getting.
On Monday, DOTD announced it was closing part of River Road to construct the bridge. But why did it take two years?
According to Wascom, the parish decided to use FEMA funds to pay for the new bridge.
"Which kept us from having to use parish money, which would have helped the bridge be installed quicker, but we went after the FEMA money and it took a little longer," he said.
Rodney Mallet with DOTD says, "It's not as easy as blaming someone. The parish hired a consultant to design the plans. Since they are using FHWA funds, they have to meet fed standards. We administer the funds and ensure the local entity meets those standards. The early plans didn't. We worked with the parish to get them to standard and went to bid as soon as eligible."
Waiting for FEMA money isn't a new concept for Livingston parish, and it has its benefits.
"It saved the parish $250,000-$300,000," said Wascom. But due to the major inconvenience it's caused the people in his district, he probably wouldn't do it the same way again.
"If this happens again, I'll make sure that we try to get some parish money invested so we don't lose that six-month period of a bridge being down."
DOTD says the new concrete bridge should be ready by September.