Drivers concerned about Belle Chasse Tunnel leaks

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 11, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 11 at 6:41 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

BELLE CHASSE, La. -- They say there are no clean cars in Belle Chasse because the Belle Chasse Tunnel is always leaking.

Pastor Michael Joubert drives through it every day to pick up his grandson from daycare.

"The water is coming through and the water's getting in," said Joubert. "It means the integrity if the structure is not solid."

State Senator David Heitmeier, D-Algeirs, says the state spent more than $3 million trying to plug the leaks.

"Since the Army Corps of Engineers started building a sector gate, they're driving sheet-piles, it's leaked in places it never leaked before," said Heitmeier.

Plaquemines Parish Councilman Keith Hinkley, whose district includes the Belle Chasse Tunnel, says he knows people feel a little uneasy when their car gets dripped on, but he's been assured that the tunnel itself is safe.

"There's been inspections on the tunnel from the DOTD, from the state and the grades and the rating that they give them for the tunnel, it's a safe tunnel," said Hinkley.

There is now a plan to replace the tunnel with a new 73-foot high fixed bridge over the Intracoastal Canal.

"So far we have about $15 million," said Heitmeier. "We believe that the total dollar value of the bridge is going to be close to $125 million to $150 million depending on which design we go with."

Hinkley hopes federal dollars will help cover the cost.

"We have a federal facility out here," said Hinkley. "We have the Naval Air Station. It's a major exit in the parish."

Construction of the new bridge could begin as early as 2015, if money can be raised for the project.

"It needs to be resolved," said Joubert. "It needs to be fixed."

Plaquemines Parish has already pledged $5 million toward the new Belle Chasse bridge. 

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