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Jurors flip on bridge project

Plans for the replacement of a bridge through the Federal Off-System Bridge Replacement Program have been flipped.
At it’s last meeting, the Acadia Parish Police Jury approved the replacement of the Deer Park Road bridge at a cost of $367,080.
Acadia has been allocated $485,697 in the federally funded program.
However, acting on the recommendation of Barbara Ostuna, Bridge Design Engineer Administrator with the state Department of Transportation and Development, the jury’s Road and Bridge Committee is suggesting that the full jury rescind that action and, instead, replace a closed bridge on Nation Road.
In a letter to the committee, Mary Murphy, office manager / administrative assistant, APPJ Road & Bridge Department, said that obtaining the required rights-of-way for the Deer Park Road bridge has “presented issues/problems. It has come to our attention that one 2-acre parcel is owned by an estate of hundreds.”
After consulting with Ostuno Robert Richard with the Real Estate Division of DOTD, Murphy concluded “it is obvious that a clear title cannot be obtained” without additional appraisal fees and legal fees (for possible expropriation).
Those fees would not be covered by the federal grant.
Michael “Pee Wee” Schexnider, parish road manager, pointed out that another bridge on Nation Road had recently been replaced under the same federal program “and most of the landowners are the same people for both bridges,” making acquisition of rights-of-way less cumbersome.
Besides, as Schexnider pointed out, the bridge on Deer Park Road, currently a timber bridge, can be replaced at a later date with another timber bridge that will not require additional right-of-way.
The federal program will only build cement bridges, which require more right-of-way.
Estimated cost to replace the bridge on Nation Road is $309,120.
The full jury is expected to take action of the switch when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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