BREAUX BRIDGE – The fate of THE bridge in Breaux Bridge remains in jeopardy as long as long as an insular and intractable bureaucracy exists in Baton Rouge.
That was the consensus reached by the city’s high-powered sesquicentennial committee, which is out to spotlight the historic aspects of the community as it goes into its 150th year of incorporation.
The people in the capital who pull the strings are not always sensitive to the significance of their actions out in the hinterland, said state Sen. Troy Hebert.
He was alluding to the hubbub raised when someone at DOTD suggested – in jest or not – that the steel superstructure of the venerable old lift bridge be cut down to the pavement, the better to preserve the tranquil view of Bayou Teche.
“You do understand what the name of the town is over here,” Hebert said he asked an unnamed official.
Hebert suggested that city officials seek national Register of Historic Places status, but that meanwhile, he and Rep. Fred Mills would work to pass legislation to protect the 58-year-old icon from the cutting torch.
Businessman Ray Pellerin issued a note of warning. He said he had been assured by state and federal officials in the early 1990s that the new bridge at Ruth would lift to accommodate the houseboat he was offering for charter at the time, but when the bridge was finally built, it was a fixed span with a maximum of 10 feet of clearance – too low for a houseboat.
“Until I see that structure repainted, it can still come down,” Pellerin said.
He added that the legislation should require the state to maintain the bridge in operable condition.
The Bayou Teche, with so many towns on its banks, offers a great opportunity for tour boats if the bridges don’t become obstacles, he said.
Chamber board member and community activist Don Thibodeaux said they should not mess with the patina of the old steel superstructure.
“If you paint the bridge, it changes the whole character.”
Hebert said the solution is to use an acid wash that fixes the rust like they use on offshore platforms.