Iberville Parish officials respond to the closure of the Bayou Grosse Tete Bridge

A pedestrian bridge has now been built for residents on the west side of Bayou Grosse Tete, but several months without the fastest artery to Plaquemine means a major adjustment for motorists.

The June 6 collision with the ship closed the bridge to Northern Iberville residents who use the artery as a quicker route to Plaquemine for work, shopping, school and other activities.

The drawbridge is less than half a mile long, but every day more than 2,000 vehicles pass the structure and return to the quieter rural life in the areas from Indian Village and north to Grosse Tete, Rosedale and. Maringouin.

“If it seemed quiet in that area before, now it’s super quiet,” Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said.

The drawbridge was the salvation for the residents on both sides of the river. It has eliminated the need to wait in traffic jams that stretch up to five miles from the Intercoastal Waterway and Interstate 10.

Now Stassi and other officials are looking for ways to make the situation a little more bearable for motorists.

“We are trying to get the companies and industries to help these people by allowing them to leave work at 3:30 p.m. so they can avoid the traffic and go home to their families,” he said. “A lot of people came from West Baton Rouge and areas like Batchelor, New Roads, Bueche and Rougon to use that bridge.

“Now those people are being dumped back on La. 1, which was already a nightmare.”

He also worries about what often becomes the busiest and most challenging time of year.

Stassi met with his staff to discuss the impact the bridge closure will have on the area as the peak hurricane season looms for the Gulf Coast. The bridge was an essential part of the evacuation route.

“Buses, ambulances, officers and law enforcement all use this bridge during the evacuation,” Stassi said.

Even if the region manages to dodge the bullet during the 2024 hurricane season, emergency management remains a critical issue.

The sheriff’s office has managed to cover that base.

“We have to change the way we work and now we’re moving a person around the area,” Stassi said. “We have had to double the ambulances in Grosse Tete in case they have to come all the way this way in areas that used to be under Plaquemine.”

The bridge closure came at the same time that students in summer school programs were being moved from North Iberville High School to Plaquemine High due to renovations at the NIHS.

A similar situation occurred during the 2016 bride clash.

“I wasn’t there at the time, but I’m told the system did the same thing at the time, they took an alternate route,” said Dr. Louis Voiron, superintendent of Iberville Parish Schools. “We will make whatever adjustments are necessary to make it work.”

He sees no zoning issues for students from the north side of the parish.

Some may cross, Voiron said.

The school system is operating on summer school transportation, but officials will switch to fall transportation in July.

The transportation issue could be more challenging for school staff commuting to Rosedale from the south side of the parish.

“It’s possible,” Voiron said. “I do not lose sight of the fact that our employees will certainly feel some impact, but there are some alternative routes available.

“The good news is that our buses and our employees are on the road sooner than when traffic gets bad,” he said. “We leave early enough to beat the late afternoon traffic.”