SWLA residents share concerns about frequent bridge closures

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 7:10 PM CST
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Lake Charles, La. (KPLC) - One bridge closure after another - the Black Bayou and Big Lake bridges have been a consistent problem for residents traveling through Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.

The Black Bayou Bridge is now open, but just a few days ago it was shut down. According to locals, it happens quite often.

For residents like Donna Clawson, what made matters even more scary was not being notified when both bridges were out of service.

“This happened on the evening of 1/8/2023 and there were no notifications from myDOTD or local entities to notify residents. We normally receive notifications but disturbingly questionable, last night with both bridges out, we received nothing,” Clawson wrote to 7News.

The most recent failure is the Grand Lake Pontoon Bridge, a cause for major concern with this bridge being an evacuation route in the event of an emergency. This is a worry for Michael Fontenot, especially since the bridge has been out of service since December 2022.

“We cannot afford to keep getting stuck on or off this island when we have things to do, something has to be done about this situation. We shouldn’t live in fear that we won’t be able to return home or won’t be able to get off the island when we need,” Fontenot wrote to 7News.

Cameron Emergency Preparedness Director Danny Lavergne said the repairs should be complete by this week. It was a matter of structure issues, which were hazardous and became a public safety concern and it was necessary to prevent the bridge from caving in the canal.

He said after the repairs are made, there are still many factors to consider. The bridges were not completely restored after damages from hurricane Laura, and many of the parts needed can’t be bought, they have to be manufactured.

Lavergne said repairs should move swiftly, with consideration to weather conditions that may push the process back by a few days.