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New bridge opens for Barataria residents one month after Ida

The Kerner Swing Bridge was destroyed by barges that broke loose during Ida.
Lafitte new bridge opens
Lafitte new bridge opens(WVUE FOX 8)
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 11:01 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A huge step in the right direction for the people of Barataria. A new bridge opened Thursday, replacing the storm-mangled Kerner Swing Bridge, the one road back to the mainland.

It’s the first big win since Ida Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner Jr. said.

“Right now, you don’t feel like it’s home when you have to wait three hours, two hours to get over the other side to even get started going to work,” Kerner Jr. said. “You still feel like the hurricane hit the day before. This bridge is going to allow them to get their kids to school on time, get to work on time, and start taking their lives back.”

The National Guard’s floating bridge has been the only way in and out of Barataria for the past month after barges that broke loose in Ida twisted the Kerner Bridge beyond repair, but DOTD worked fast to get this temporary acrow bridge up.

“It’s proven. We used it for the Twin Spans during hurricane Katrina, where it lasted three years,” DOTD Secretary, Shawn Wilson said. “The heavy equipment, the things that are going to be necessary to rebuild this community are going to travel across this bridge.”

That’s a welcome thought for people like Erin Terrell.

“Thank goodness for that! Maybe I can go get my car now, but until all the mud is gone, I can’t get my cars in my driveway,” Terrell said.

Mud is her biggest problem.

“We need excavators, marsh buggies, any kind of big equipment like that can help us get this mud out of here,” Terrell said. “As long as it’s sitting here, the water is not going anywhere.”

Mud is an issue for many still in Barataria and Lower Lafitte, but Terrell’s home is one of the worst points in Barataria.

The nearby canal pushed everything into her yard and clogged up the woods, so every time it rains the water has nowhere to go and her situation continues to get soggier.

“It needs to be cleared out as much as it can and then come along here behind my shed and dig a ditch all the way to the road, that way the water can get out. Until then we will continue to flood,” Terrell said.

Terrell says her kids have to wade through the mud to get to the bus every morning and it’s been flooding her neighbors as well. Ahe says the Parish needs to step in.

“Don’t just look at pictures, come here in person and put your boots on,” Terrell said.

Supply distribution sites are starting to wind down with the news of the bridge and hope continues to grow along with debris piles, but some like Terrell are stuck. She can’t work to clean up like a lot of her neighbors.

“I’m really really worrisome,” Terrell said. “It’s full of snakes, it stinks, it’s horrible.”

The new bridge is only a short-term solution while work begins on the permanent swing bridge.

DOTD is working on getting pilings up to protect this new bridge from any collisions.

The National Guard’s floating bridge will stay for now to help with all the big trucks coming through.

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