Resurfacing access roads last hurdle for ferry reinstatement

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010



LAPLACE – Officials with the state Department of Transportation and Development said they are expecting to finalize a work schedule this week for the resurfacing of access roads to the Reserve-Edgard ferry in St. John Parish.

Spokesperson Amber Hebert said the DOTD district office could know by the end of the week when work can begin on the access roads on both sides of the Mississippi River. Hebert said the access roads, which were neglected while the ferry was out of commission for more than two years, need a complete overhaul since a portion of the roadway had been washed away by the river.

“The roads leading to the ferry landings on both sides need work,” Hebert said. “The existing concrete will be pulled up and completely refilled.”

Hebert said DOTD was waiting on a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers before moving forward with the work since construction would affect the riverside of levees on both sides of the river. DOTD received the permits in June.

The ramp work is the latest in a series of delays in getting the ferry back on the water since it was docked in 2007 while the corps made levee and landing sites repairs.

Upon completion of the repairs, which called for the repositioning of a utility pole off the levee’s slope, 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. Eventually, the church relented and allowed the parish to use the land to place the pole.

The return was delayed again earlier this year when water levels in the Mississippi River prevented work on installation of the pole. Entergy said the utility pole was put in place and connected to the electrical grid in May.

Hebert said the ramp work is the final setback keeping the ferry out of the water. She said the boat, known as ferry St. Charles, is regularly docked at the Reserve landing.

Ferry Capt. Harry J. Nicholas Jr., who was hired earlier this year, said he and his other four crew members are ready and waiting to get going on the water again.

“Our engineer is here,” Nicholas said. “Our deckhands are here. We are just waiting for these roads to get built.”

Hebert said the round-trip tolls for the ferry service — $1 for cars, 25 cents for pedestrians — would remain the same. She also said the ferry would run on the same schedule it had in the past — 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.