Iberville launches informational website for parish bridge

Andrew Green agreen@postsouth.com

Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr. and his administration revealed to Parish Council members on Tuesday a new interactive website in hopes to strengthen their efforts in installing a new bridge in Iberville Parish.

The website features a history of the Iberville bridge project, the project’s purpose, links to how the public can stay involved in the discussion, and live video feed of troublesome traffic areas.

“This site is about getting information out, how to get the public involved, who they need to contact so that we can stay in the eye of the ‘powers that be’ to make sure that Iberville stays in play for a bridge,” Finance Director Randall Dunn told council members.  “Unless somebody makes it a priority on the federal level, it’s never going to happen, so the only thing that we can do is do what we can and get the information out.”

The website also hosts a link to live video feeds of both the north and south bound lanes of the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge in West Baton Rouge parish and both ferry landings (Plaquemine and St. Gabriel).

“One thing that people need to see is what the traffic looks like before they get into it,” Dunn said.  He said the idea for a webpage came in 2016 when he was approached by Parish President Ourso to increase the public involvement and to explore ways to visually explain the complicated process.

“Now anybody in the world can go to www.ibervillebridge.com and see what’s going on,” President Ourso said at the close of his President’s Report.  “We want to be in control of our own destiny.”

Keeping Iberville Parish on the front line of the bridge conversation has been a priority for Ourso and his administration.

“If you’re not at the table, then you must be on the menu,” Ourso said regarding Iberville’s presence in discussing the matter with state leaders to the council in March.  “I’m going to make sure that we are going to be at the table with this bridge.  I’m not going to let this happen without Iberville getting its fair share.”

Ourso explained to the council members in March that the parish spent approximately $2,500 a month in consulting fees with the TJC Group to help lobby leaders of the state on behalf of the parish.

Ourso then presented data that claimed the two potential Iberville bridge locations would decrease traffic along Hwy. 1 by more than 30 percent.  One proposed location is near north Plaquemine by Dow Chemical and the other, Ourso’s first choice, is located near Bayou Goula and would feed into St. Gabriel.

According to the website, a bridge in Iberville parish would “relieve congestion along the LA 1 Corrider caused by high traffic volumes accessing the I-10 and the Mississippi River Bridge at Baton Rouge” and “enhance mobility and access across the Mississippi River that has stymied the growth of residential, commercial and industrial development, especially in Iberville Parish due to the lack of efficient connectivity between interests in Iberville Parish, which sits astride on both sides of the river.”

In addition to the live traffic feed, which will be available on an app the public can download to their phones, the website features a video explaining the current traffic woes of the area.

The video says that in addition to relieving traffic congestion, the bridge would open up industrial development calling it a “crucial move to the economic development of the parish”.

Dunn said the parish spent approximately $25,000 on establishing the website which was well received by council members.

“You’ll see Iberville come out like a bucking horse,” Council Chairman Matt Jewell said.  “When we do something we usually do it right.”

The website also includes contact information for parish council members, local legislators and federal legislators, potential environmental impacts the project will have and downloadable documents of the West Side Expressway Implementation Plan and the CRISIS Coalition Regional Projects Analysis.

For more information, visit the website at www.ibervillebridge.com or at www.weneedabridge.com.