- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

GROSSE TETE, La. (AP) - State highway officials have closed the La. Highway 77 bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway after a barge slammed into the bridge over the weekend.

Rodney Mallett with Department of Transportation and Development tells The Advocate (https://bit.ly/MKGMLL) there is no timeline to reopen the bridge. He says officials are still assessing the damage.

Ryan Tippets, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard, said Monday that investigators don’t know what caused the barge to crash into the bridge.

Tippets said the captain of the tugboat pulling the barge was not issued a citation, and the Coast Guard has closed its investigation into the incident.

The crash severely damaged the wood apron on the Plaquemine side of the bridge and shifted its concrete foundation, making it impossible for the swing bridge’s interlocking system to work.

DOTD and other state officials had a series of meetings Monday with parish officials about the bridge and how its shutdown would affect Grosse Tete residents who frequently use it to travel to Plaquemine.

Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso said state officials informed the parish the bridge could be closed a minimum of 60 days.

In the meantime, Ourso said he’s trying to find a way to ferry people - without their cars - across the Intracoastal Waterway.

This would allow people with access to cars on both sides of the waterway to avoid the 45 minute drive the detour is expected to take.

“We’re trying to ease the inconvenience of people having to drive around,” he said. “It’s probably going to take us a couple of days to line everything up.”


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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