As flagmen waved the first cars over the new Bernard Bayou bridge, they noticed one woman with a puzzled look on her face. "She seemed excited," Leonard Gilman said. "But she still wanted her old road back."
The old road with its rusty bridge is now empty. It's been replaced by this wider, modern, partially opened $14 million bridge and roadway. And drivers loved it. One said it's "beautiful. I'm glad it's open. It's fantastic. Couldn't be any better." Another said, "The bridge is pretty nice. I wish they had a little arrow pointing left here. But the bridge is pretty nice." According to flagman Monty Buchanan, the drivers "seemed like they were really happy because the bridge is opened up."
One of the happiest and now loneliest people near the new road may be Richard Jermyn. "You see," Jermyn said, "I don't have any neighbors, I don't have anybody to fuss over the fence with."
The moment the bridge opened and traffic shifted onto the two northbound lanes, Jermyn gained about 30 extra feet of peace and quiet. He said, "It's a good day because the traffic like I said is further away from my house."
The traffic now rolls behind a cemetery, and through an area that used to be home to nine Brentwood families. For people in the subdivision, the new road may take some getting used to. According to project engineer James Clark, "They're used to going across there with no traffic on it. It's a hazard if they don't observe the traffic."
Drivers say even though it's just two lanes right now, the new Bernard Bayou bridge sure beats the old path up Cowan Lorraine Road. "Oh yes I think so," a driver said. "Traffic wise it helps out a lot, without a doubt."
Eventually, the new Cowan Lorraine Road will handle four lanes of traffic. The other two lanes won't open until this fall, after the state finishes work on a new Industrial Seaway drawbridge.