Out of Service Drawbridges Concern Leaders

Monday, the supervisors approved spending emergency funds to make repairs to one of the bridges, the one over Bayou Portage, north of Pass Christian. The board also urged state highway officials to get the I-110 draw-bridge fixed as soon as possible.

Crews managed to get the Bayou Portage bridge down when it got stuck open last Friday. But now it won't open again. That could have caused tense moments for commercial and recreational boat owners if Tropical Storm Barry had hit. District 3 Supervisor Marlin Ladner says "At the time it was uncertain the route Hurricane Barry would take or the storm would take and we concerned because of the refuge that the boats need in Bayou Portage and if the bridge were unable to raise then it would pose some difficulty for the safety of those boats." The supervisors agreed to spend whatever it takes to fix the bridge. Otherwise, with the bridge out of commission boats would have to find safe harbor somewhere else. "The Wolf River is another avenue but the draft is lot shallower than it is at Bayou Portage so a lot of the bigger vessels probably would have had to shore up there at Bay St. Louis and depending on the strength of the storm that may not necessarily be a safe harbor," says Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver.

It was last Friday before the supervisors found out that the I-110 drawbridge wasn't working either. Supervisor Bobby Eleuterius says with the tropical storm's path so uncertain, the timing couldn't have been worse. So the board asked for a commitment from the state department of transportation and Commissioner Wayne Brown. "To make sure that by June first all these grids are operational and if they have parts that they're concerned about, have these parts on hand, not wait until we have problems with a hurricane and it's within hours of hitting shore, coming on shore and all of a sudden we're concerned about it," says Eleuterius.

Brown says the 1-110 bridge has had electrical problems since June 29th and is unable to open. He says a Minnesota engineering firm has been called in to find out what's wrong.

Marcia Hill