Donaldsonville bridge replacement to begin next month

Jacob Batte Special to The Donaldsonville Chief
Bayou Lafourche, Donaldsonville.

Construction is set to begin next month on a $5 million bridge in Donaldsonville considered a critical part of a large-scale project that aims to increase Mississippi River water flow into the bayou.

The Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District and the state will split the cost of the bridge for the project, titled the Mississippi River Reintroduction to Bayou Lafourche Project.

The existing Union Pacific Railroad bridge has three culverts, which often clog up, restricting the flow of the bayou.

Freshwater District Director Ben Malbrough said the bridge, which is expected to be completed near the end of September, is “literally and figuratively opens up the rest of the project.”

We realized several years ago...that all the work we were doing is really for nothing if we couldn't get the flow restriction at the railroad crossing modified or removed,” he said. “It's the most critical portion of this project. Beyond the Union Pacific Railroad bridge, nothing is stopping us from moving forward except funding.”

The goal of the overall project is to revitalize Bayou Lafourche by diverting 1,000 cubic feet per second of freshwater from the Mississippi River into the waterway.

Bayou Lafourche provides drinking water to 300,000 Lafourche, Terrebonne, Assumption, and Ascension residents, and is the only source of potable water for Port Fourchon.

Other phases of the project are moving along on schedule.

Construction on a $3.4 million saltwater control structure in Lockport, that will create a reservoir for all the water plants along Bayou Lafourche, is on schedule.