Ferry closure further isolates southern EastbankJan 15th, 2013 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: top story
The recent closure of the Pointe-a-la-Hache ferry spawned outrage from parish residents and the Plaquemines Parish Council, at the January 10 PPC meeting.
The administration issued a press release on January 9 stating that Department of Transportation and Development has deemed the ferry landing unsafe and has ordered Plaquemines Parish to close it immediately.
Several dozen Eastbank residents voiced concerns that the closure of the ferry was cutting them of from basic necessities like a medical center and grocery store—
once a 15 minute ferry ride to Port Sulphur and now 45 minute drive upriver to St. Bernard Parish.
“Many of our residents in this area are on fixed income; this is hard,” said Eastbank representative P.V. Griffin.
Quentin Washington, an Eastbank resident and Parish employee who commutes to Homeplace everyday, said the ferry closure is costing him an extra $40 per trip.
“If this continues I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Washington. “I can’t afford it.”
District 4 Councilman Stuart Guey stated that the ferry closure is definitely a hardship for people, especially parish employees.
“Our employees are doing a job for us,” said Guey. “I’ll support any legislation to appropriate money to make that happen (repair ferry landing).”
Councilman Anthony Buras said that having only one ferry was a safety issue, and although sudden, its problems are nothing new.
“The parish can’t be cut off because we have one ferry landing,” said Buras. “The problem with the ferry landing has happened over time and the parish has known they were deteriorating. Money has been placed in Capital Outlay for repairs since 2004.”
Councilchair Byron Marinovich said he was “extremely disgusted” with the way the closure of the ferry took place, and said he found it coincidental that the ferry was closed the week of the second council meeting in Pointe-a-la-Hache, a few weeks after
a $25 million bond to build the Eastbank courthouse was approved.
“I told Byron Marinovich that I was fine with building a small courthouse on the Eastbank, so to say that I was going to shut down the ferry because of the courthouse,
is ridiculous,” said Nungesser in a Friday phone interview. “The council has
known for over a year that work needed to be done on this ferry landing but they blame me instead of taking action. As soon as I got DOTD’s letter we started working on a solution to see if we can get it open with light traffic.” Nungesser was not present
at the council meeting.
Councilman Griffin offered a resolution that declares the existence of an emergency and authorizes and directs the Parish President to notify GEC—the architecture and engineering firm hired after Isaac to do some remedial repairs on the landing—
to finish the rest of their contract. If Nungesser did not notify GEC within 24 hours, the resolution gives Griffin or Marinovich the authority to do so.
Council Attorney Ken Rathburn authored the resolution and said in a nutshell, it gives GEC the green light to get working on the design and construction package to go out for bid. The bid process normally takes at least 30 days, but the resolution allows the
process to be abbreviated.
“Post-Isaac there was the ability to go out on a shortened bid process of seven days, and this firm has the ability to do that shortened bid process,” because of the resolution, explained Rathburn. “The immediate effect is that within 24 hours, the
Parish President must give notice to GEC to proceed with the rest of the contract
that has already been executed with the parish post-Isaac,” said Rathburn.
“Once the bids come in the resolution allows the Parish President to sign a contract with the lowest bidder. If he fails to do so within 24 hours of that 7 day period
ending, there is an alternative that allows Mr. Griffin or Marinovich to sign the contract for construction of the repairs.”
On Friday afternoon, Nungesser said he had not received formal notice from the council on this issue. Rathburn further explained that an ordinance will need to be passed at the next meeting to appropriate construction funds. The resolution passed