Mayors in Iberville Parish enthusiastic about Mississippi River Bridge progress

Staff Report

News of funding and the selection of three sites – all in Iberville Parish – have come as a welcome announcement not only for parish officials, but also those in city government.

Mayors in Iberville Parish are enthusiastic about the progress on a new Mississippi River Bridge, which they  hope will finally bring a stop to the massive gridlock that has become the norm in traffic to Baton Rouge.

Three mayors from Iberville Parish told Post/South they see big benefits on the horizon now that the state Department of Transportation and Development has narrowed selection to Iberville Parish.

The DOTD announced last month that the three final sites are in Iberville.

Plaquemine Mayor Ed Reeves sees the project as a gamechanger that is long overdue, even though it may pose a few challenges at the start.

“It’s going to be interesting, and I’m thankful that we got it in Iberville – it’s badly needed,” he said. “But I’ve gotten a few calls about the traffic that is coming through town, but the same traffic is going through Addis and Brusly, although they have two split highways going through there.”

Reeves said he hopes the environmental process moves quicker than the two years.

“They know the least resistant spot is Evergreen Plantation, and they should pull the trigger and get done with it –that’s my opinion,” he said. “But it’s going to be a plus for us, open a lot of opportunities for the people in the City of Plaquemine.

“We’re ready to move forward, and I want to thank Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso for his tireless, relentless efforts to make this happen.”

St. Gabriel Mayor Lionel Johnson said the announcement came as somewhat of a surprise.

“My initial response was shock that all three elections were in Iberville Parish,” he said. “However, a bridge in Iberville is past due.

“On the St. Gabriel end, each is in close proximity to three very distinct areas,” Johnson said. “I continue to remind people that with funding as subsequent phases, the bridge is a future project.”

While the bridge is important to the region, Johnson wants the state to also focus on the widening of La. 30 from to lanes to four lanes.

“It deserves more immediate and pressing attention,” he said.

On the north end of Iberville Parish, Grosse Tete Mayor Mike Chauffe said the project will have as much impact on his area, even though the bridge would be located 25 miles from his municipality.

“No doubt we’ve been needing a new bridge for at least 10 years, but the state has been procrastinating on it for a long time,” he said. “If you commute from anywhere to the westside, it’s a nightmare.

“The people who don’t travel that area have no inclination how inconvenient it is to drive to Baton Rouge,” he said. “It’s unacceptable to see how the one lane of interstate has inconvenienced so many people – it’s long overdue.”

Post/South reached out to White Castle Mayor John Morris, who was unavailable for comment.