River level source of latest ferry delay

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010



LAPLACE – High water in the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish is the final hurdle standing in the way of the Edgard/Reserve ferry’s return to operation.

St. John Parish Attorney Kerry Brown, who has been handling the legal battle to get the ferry back, said State Department of Transportation and Development officials are awaiting clearance from the Corps of Engineers before they can place a utility pole that is needed for operation near the ferry’s Edgard landing. The new pole will connect to an existing pole on the landing.

“Water levels on the river are above 11 feet in this area,” Brown said. “It needs to be below that mark before any work on or near the flood protection levee can be done.”

Brown said the corps expects to see the river level drop before the end of April. He said the ferry could be back on the water as soon as the beginning of May depending on how the river reacts in the coming days.

“DOTD tells me they are optimistic,” Brown said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

The ferry was docked in 2007 for repair work to the landing and levee that was spearheaded by the corps. Upon completion of the repairs, which called for the movement of a utility pole, the parish was caught in a legal struggle with the Archdiocese of New Orleans over access to land near the river batture that is owned by St. John the Baptist Church in Edgard. The court battle stretched out more than a year before the church relented and allowed the parish to use the land to place the pole. Brown said once the pole is placed and electricity is connected, the ferry would be ready for operation.