Parish gets money to build 10 bridges

BATON ROUGE, La. - The state of Louisiana has approved $4,415,477 for 10 bridge replacements in Vermilion Parish, allowing parish officials to access federal Community Development Block Grant funds needed to implement the project.

The funding comes from the Long Term Community Recovery Program, a $700 million pool of federal CDBG money set aside by the Louisiana Recovery Authority and Office of Community Development to help local governments rebuild and implement long-term recovery plans.

The 10 bridges slated for replacement are as follows:

* Alpha Road Bridge at Kinney Coulee

* Amerada Road Bridge at Unnamed Coulee

* Bluebonnet Road Bridge at Grand Marais Bayou

* Cleo Road Bridge at Baton Coulee

* Cuz Road Bridge at the Isle Marrone Canal

* Community Road Bridge at Bull Hole Canal

* Lloyd Road Bridge at Unnamed Coulee

* Pioneer Road Bridge at Baton Coulee

* Prairie Road Bridge at Seventh Ward Canal

* Sweet Bay Road Bridge at Noel Canal

After Hurricane Rita, structural damaged to these bridges caused the allowable load limits to be reduced to vehicles weighing less than 15 tons. As a result, large-rig truckers must find alternative routes when doing business in the parish, and school buses are prohibited from crossing the bridges. In addition to forcing students to travel extra miles for extended periods, the bridges are inadequate to withstand hurricane-force storm surges and river flooding.

The CDBG funds will be used to enlarge and increase the load capacity and safety of the bridges, allowing them to handle more water during future storm surges and river flooding.

LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater said, “The possibility of a failure occurring on one or more of these bridges creates a burden on Vermilion Parish residents during everyday travel, as well as under extreme conditions such as evacuations. Replacing these bridges will help shore up our infrastructure and eliminate the inconvenient detours now experienced by parish citizens. I am pleased that CDBG recovery funds will be used for these critical bridge replacement projects.”

Vermilion Parish Police Jury President Gerald Butaud said, “During and immediately after Hurricane Rita, the accumulation of excess water at these undersized structures resulted in a backup that caused significant flooding upstream, downstream and in roadside ditches. This flooding hindered residents’ access to needed resources and endangered their safety. The installation of adequately sized bridges made possible by CDBG disaster recovery funding will prevent this problem from occurring in the future.”

In total, the LRA has allocated $7,651,424 of CDBG funding to Vermilion Parish for LTCR projects.

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