NEW ORLEANS -- It was suppose to reopen after Labor Day, but the Judge Seeber Bridge is still closed to traffic.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says crews are working to re-paint the aging 56-year-old structure.
“We are pioneers in the revitalization efforts of the Lower 9th Ward, definitely,” said Café Dauphine co-owner Tia Moore-Henry.
Cafe Dauphine turned a year-old in June.
The Lower 9th Ward restaurant was opened by a local family wanting to help get the struggling post-Katrina neighborhood back on track.
However, hungry customers, along with Moore-Henry, are forced to navigate detours with the Judge Seeber Bridge still out of service.
“I've been stuck on the bridge 30 or 40 minutes one morning, which delayed me in getting here and getting the kitchen set up,” she said.
The closure is even impacting this restaurant's to-go orders.
“We deliver in the Marigny and in the Bywater area, and that can hold us up on that side of getting people their food on time and hot,” Moore-Henry said.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says crews are painting the vertical lift drawbridge's east and west tours, a lengthy process complicated by lead-based paint. The price tag is between $10 and $15 million.
The DOTD estimates that when this bridge is open, it usually carries over 26,000 commuters every day.
Now many of those drivers have to find alternate routes.
“The traffic is real bad and I hope they get it together for the people,” said Lower 9th Ward resident Brian Jacob.
Since the bridge was shut down in early August, Louisiana state troopers continue to work morning and evening details to help keep commuter traffic moving.
The inconvenience is worth it to drivers like Laura LePage, who regularly travel across the Industrial Canal.
“We're waiting for it. It will be OK. We need that. We need the painting. It needs to look better, so we're happy about that,” she said.
Detour signs say the bridge will reopen to traffic sometime in mid-October.
Drivers can use St. Claude Avenue or Florida Avenue as alternate routes to get across the Industrial Canal.