GREENSBURG, LA (WAFB) - Greensburg residents are frustrated that a bridge on a major roadway through St. Helena Parish is still closed four months after being washed out in August's historic flood.
Mayor EJ Hanhart said the bridge closure on Hwy. 10 is hurting business and putting public safety at risk. At the Whispering Pines Truck Stop and Casino along LA 10, manager Darin Pearis estimates business is down 50 percent since the flood.
"We don't have the traffic through here anymore," Pearis said. The truck stop is located just a few miles from Greensburg. When the bridge washed out, what was once a short drive to town bumped up to 20 minutes or more with a detour.
"We've got hunters coming through in hunting season, they're rerouted. We've got people that live in Greensburg that may work in Amite, they're rerouted," Pearis said. He said fewer 18-wheelers are stopping by for gas as well.
Now, Pearis said they may be forced to let some employees go. "We've stayed fully staffed all the way through the end of this year, but we've already notified some of our staff that we're going to have to decrease. We just didn't want to do it before the holidays," he said.
The impact of the bridge being out extends beyond just the economy. The head of the St. Helena Parish Hospital said the detour is dangerous for patients, especially in emergency situations.
"If somebody's having stroke, heart attack, or any of those critical situations, time is very, very important. Every second matters," said hospital CEO Naveed Awan.
DOTD is in charge of the bridge. Rodney Mallett, a spokesman for the department, said the bridge was so badly damaged during the flood that it is unsafe and cannot be repaired. Mallett said the demolition of the bridge will take place in late January, with construction on a new bridge starting after that.