Empire united: Doullut Canal Bridge now openMay 30th, 2012 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: top story
After six years of delays, the Doullut Canal Bridge on Highway 11 opened May 7 and Empire residents couldn’t be happier.
Ann Griffice has lived in Empire her whole life and says that the bridge is more than just another completed highway project— it’s a symbol of unity in the town that is no longer geographically divided by a broken bridge.
Griffice, who is known throughout the community as the “Mayor of Empire” explained that many of her neighbors and family members who commute to the North and South side of the canal regularly are breathing a collective sigh of relief since they can reach their destinations without having go five or six miles out of the way.
“It’s been a big hardship for people without it, and now it’s like the village is coming together again,” Griffice said. “It feels like a united Empire.”
Parish President Billy Nungesser said the administration recognized the great inconvenience the bridge has been for residents, and said the main delay was having to start the project from scratch when he took office in 2008.
“The opening of the Doullout Canal Bridge has been long awaited by the citizens of Plaquemines Parish. When we took office the project was basically sitting on a shelf with no work being done,” Nungesser stated. “We realized the importance of this bridge and the frustration of the public and began work on it a year after Katrina, basically from scratch. It’s a good day for the businesses and residents of Plaquemines Parish.”
District 7 Councilman Jeff Edgecombe struck a similar chord, and said in a written statement that he was pleased to see the bridge completed despite major delays caused by the previous administrations’ lack of response.
“I’m grateful that this long winded project has finally come to an end, hopefully the businesses that were financially impaired are able to make a successful comeback.” Edgecombe continued with, “This entire project should have never been initiated in the matter it was, I concur that the previous administration after Katrina initiated one of many ‘flaws’…If there is anything this current Council or Administration can do to bring back the economic loss, I know we will.”
Councilchair Byron Marinovich mentioned during the May 10 meeting that an official ribbon cutting ceremony would be held when Edgecombe has fully recovered from oral surgery.
The Doullout Canal Bridge was originally built in 1950, and was badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina. It was removed in 2006, and according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, the work order was placed in March of 2008 for a $10.9 million contract with Coastal Bridge Co, L.L.C. The DOTD District 2 project website lists the bridge’s estimated completion date as March 31, 2010.