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LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) -
Band-aids on bigger problems, that's how the director of public works in Livingston Parish describes the patch jobs done on several old wooden bridges there. Some who use those bridges say there are definitely some that are overdue for an upgrade.
"This bridge burned out one time," said Ada Davidson, who lives in Holden on James Chapel Road. "If you're going across it a certain way, you can hit it...you're going this way it'll actually throw you toward that bridge railing and that's not going to stop anything."
She says about 12 years ago, the bridge caught on fire and since then people living there have been waiting for something better to drive on.
Over in Maurepas, on Cline Road, a pile of dirt and barricades are stopping people from driving all the way down the road.
The parish DPW director says the bridges are inspected every year, but he admits some are in bad shape. Mainly the wooden ones.
In fact, he says he lowered the weight limit on the bridge on James Chapel Road, after seeing the underside of the bridge crumble when a car drove over it. The limit was 13 tons, it's now three tons. He also stopped school buses from driving over it.
"They make then come this far and turn around. They go the interstate to the Holden exit and then they come back the other way," Davidson said.
But those who live in the area say not everyone is obeying the weight restriction.
"The fire trucks don't come across it, but gravel trucks going to Granny's does. DOT says there's nothing they can do about it because it's a parish road," said Davidson.
So why has the parish not solved the problem? Digirolamo says they haven't had the money. But now, through a federally-funded grant, seven of the parish's worst bridges are about to get some attention.
The other bridges are on Jack Rhodus Road, Blacklake Club Road, Haynes Settlement Road North, Haynes Settlement Road South and McCarroll Road.
"If we don't get this thing changed out, peoples going to crucify us," Digirolamo said. "So we're trying. It's out number one priority bridge (James Chapel Road) and Cline Bridge."
In the next year to year-and-a-half, he's hoping to replace the old wooden structures with concrete.
"They're all bad."
The total cost to replace seven of the bridges is $3.4 million. A pre-construction meeting is planned for this Friday, work should start sometime after that.
Digirolamo adds the bridge on Wax Road is also on their list to be replaced.