Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Tigerland bridge closed, bar owners worried

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BATON ROUGE - After months of anxiety, the entrance to Tigerland has been officially closed.

The 52-year-old bridge that leads into the neighborhood will be replaced over a six-month period, if not longer.

"I'm glad they waited until after football season because about 95% of our business comes from pedestrian traffic on a game day," Jason Nay of Fred's said.

Bar owners have been dreading this day for months. Now, there is just one way in and out of the neighborhood through Alvin Dark to Brightside.

"I think there's a lot of other businesses that I don't think people realize is going to get hurt from this as well. I bet Small's and Plucker's depend on Tigerland business after 11 pm," Nay said.

Besides losing business, bar owners are concerned with students trying to cross the closed bridge.

"Biggest concern for me is, they've had some stuff to drink, and trying to maybe chance it and run over it or whatever when it's not fully stabilized. That's a big worry," said Jeff Vaccaro, who manages The House.

"I'm really worried about a student thinking it's a good idea to jump the fence or try to cross this bridge when it shouldn't be crossed," Nay said.

The managers have been trying to get the city to let them put in a temporary solution.

"We're trying right now to get a man bridge that's going to be able to let civilians walk over at least for time being during this," Vaccaro said.

So far, the city hasn't been interested.

A city spokesperson said they're not stopping anyone from building a bridge, but that all the extra red tape involved to approve it would slow down the project tremendously.

The city sent an official statement later in the day:

“The bridge on Bob Pettit Blvd is being replaced because of safety concerns. Motorists can still access the area off Brightside Drive. The current bridge is beyond its lifespan. The new bridge will be safer, more durable and allow for better drainage. The replacement process should last until mid 2022, if not later. The bridge replacement was delayed until after football season to minimize impact to the area, but can be delayed no longer for safety concerns.

Bottom line, this bridge must be addressed immediately because of safety concerns. A pedestrian bridge would require approval from the federal & state government and the railroad company. We doubt such a project would be approved and the process to seek approval would tremendously slow down the bridge replacement, which can’t be delayed any further because of safety concerns.”


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