IBERVILLE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Last Friday's boat crash caused some severe damage to a highly traveled bridge in Iberville Parish and it could be up to three or four months before repairs can be made.
The Grosse Tete bridge is shut down after a barge destroyed nearly 50 feet of the apron on one side on February 28, 2014. An entire section of the concrete structure shifted about six inches. All eight pilings beneath are damaged, some more severely, others with cracks.
Residents in Iberville Parish have had to scramble to find a different route to get across the Intracoastal Canal after a boat smashed into the Grosse Tete Bridge, or LA Hwy 77 Bridge.
The Iberville Sheriff's Office and parish officials are partially answering the cry for help by bringing in two barges to serve as landings for a pedestrian-only ferry.
They had hoped for a boat large enough to carry vehicles, but Parish President Mitchell Ourso says they are having to make due.
Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi says either way, it is a much needed quick fix.
"We felt it necessary that we stepped forward. The State promised us a boat to ferry people across. If they fail to come through, the Sheriff's Office will start Monday," said Stassi.
While the quick fix will help many pedestrians, it will not make a dent in the problems drivers face. Parish President Mitchell Ourso says hundreds of motorists used the bridge each day. Now, those behind the wheel will need to detour 40 to 50 miles down the road to cross the canal.
Ourso knows firsthand how much of an inconvenience that will be.
"I said I can't believe this. I used to live on the other side and I know it got hit before...and it is very inconvenient for everybody. You know, no one wants to be inconvenienced," said Ourso.
He knows how vital the Grosse Tete Bridge is to Iberville residents. There are many residents on the north side that try to get across the bridge. There are also people who work in the Plaquemine area at chemical plants that cannot get across.
It is something residents will have to get used to. It could take up to three or four months to get things back to normal.