Councilman wants shut down bridges in EBR to reopen quicker

Councilman wants shut down bridges in EBR to reopen quicker

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It can takes weeks, months and even years to fix shut down bridges, and many times, they inconvenience those trying to drive around them.

Now, Councilman Trae Welch, who represents the northern end of East Baton Rouge Parish, wants to change the process that would reopen shut down bridges quicker.

Currently, there are nine bridges that are shut down in the parish due to their structural integrity. Some have been shut down a few weeks, others a few months and one in particular, the Milldale Bridge, has been closed since 2013.

Eddie Huggins is a cancer patient and drives around two closed bridges daily. Prior to the two bridges shutting down, buses would come to his home for treatment. Now, those buses cannot get around with the closures. Instead, Huggins has to go to them.

"You have to leave home at least 4:00 a.m. if you got to go," said Huggins.

Along with the inconvenience for drivers, it's also cutting into the response time of first responders.

"We've got three in our district alone, which are causing major emergency issues with us responding at a proper time, distance," said Chaneyville Fire Chief Mark Strickland. "Five of them really affect us all the way around from helping other fire departments, helping Pride, helping Zachary or Central or District 6, anybody that may need our help in that area."

Councilman Welch introduced an item that would require the Department of Public Works to give him a list of all the closures and closure dates.

Welch said in cases of severe weather, the parish already has contractors on stand-by so they can pick up debris immediately. He wants the same for when a bridge goes out, contractors ready to go so they can begin work immediately and reopen the bridges sooner rather than later.

The item will be discussed at the council meeting on June 23.

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