The Lapalco Bridge is open, at least for now. But this past week the West Bank drawbridge over the Harvey Canal shut down three times for several hours because of mechanical problems.
Jefferson Parish Councilman At Large Chris Roberts is frustrated with the situation.
"It is an older drawbridge," said Roberts. "It has been hit by vessels in the past. We did a number of upgrades on the bridge within the last 24 months. Any time you're dealing with an electrical component, it's very difficult to pinpoint where the problem may exist."
Monday afternoon, neighbors gathered at the Frigid Zone snowball stand near the east approach to the bridge. They say the span is a lifeline for Harvey and Marrero.
"It's very important. You know people got to get back and forth to work and everything, so it's very important to keep it open," said Willie Houston.
"My son lives over the Lapalco Bridge. My church is over that Lapalco Bridge and my friends," said Tracy Wilson. "So it's very important that it stay open."
Neighbors say it's a real pain getting to where they're going when the Lapalco Bridge is closed.
"We have to take alternate routes around and it's a lot of traffic and headaches having to back down when the bridge is broken," said Nicole Brown. "It's a major inconvenience to have to travel all the way down Lapalco to get on the Westbank Expressway to go across the expressway to get to Barataria and go down."
The problems on the Lapalco Bridge have gotten so bad, the parish is staging barricades at the on-ramps. Roberts said the best possible solution would be to replace the aging bridge, but he said at this point, that's not an option.
"You're probably looking upwards of over $100 million to do that," said Roberts. "To even eliminate the drawbridge portion is virtually not an option because you're talking about taking out a number of homes and businesses in able to accommodate that."
Roberts requested that parish streets and public works officials meet with him this week to work on a solution to the continuing problems on the Lapalco Bridge.