St. Helena opens four of five new bridges _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Stephanie Warren -- St. Helena Parish celebrates on Oct. 24 the grand opening of Carrier Road Bridge. Gathering for the ceremony, from left, are Gary Nolen, Foreman-Guinn Construction; Donnie Saucier, contractor with Pontchartrain Engineers; Terrell Bordelon, Pontchartrain Engineers; Michelle Saucier, project engineer, Pontchartrain; and Virginia Bell, St. Helena Parish administrator.

St. Helena Parish drivers face dilapidated roads and crumbling bridges across the parish.

Parish officials said they are working on the problem with the help of grant money and the support of area leaders.

St. Helena Parish celebrated the grand opening Oct. 24 of the Carrier Road Bridge off La. 16 in Pine Grove.

The project was the fourth of five bridges that have been contracted for repair under the $3.4 million Gustav/Ike Grant Program, officials said.

Bridges on Hornsby Road, Willie Redden Road and Sibley Road were repaired earlier this year under the program.

In addition to the bridge repairs, parish administrator Virginia Bell said $1.7 million of the grant money was dedicated for infrastructure and for the Fifth Ward Recreational Multipurpose Center on La. 16, with the remaining $800,000 going to the Minor Housing Repair Program under the Gustav/Ike funding.

The purpose of the Minor Housing Repair Program was to make minor repairs to the homes of parish senior citizens and disabled residents.

The parish targeted low-income seniors who would not have had any other means of getting funds for the much-needed work on their homes, officials said. To qualify for the program, applicants must agree not sell their home for three years, Bell said.

Primarily, the parish replaced damaged roofs, floors and windows, and repaired bathrooms, kitchens and septic systems. To date, the parish has completed more than 60 homes and is about to wrap up the program, officials said.

“Residents are very pleased to have another new bridge opening in St. Helena. I am sure that it will give them peace of mind to know that they no longer have to travel on a structure that is old and deteriorating,” Bell said. “The Gustav/Ike funds that the parish received from the state continue to be used to improve the lives of the citizens in this parish.”

Pontchartrain Engineers & Surveyors Inc., of Ponchatoula, working with Providence Engineering, of Baton Rouge, and the parish have been in charge of the projects. Guinn Construction LLC, of Jennings, was hired to repair and/or replace these structures.

The parish is not only getting five new bridges, but it also is conducting a major overhaul to some of its worse roads. PEC Engineers, of Baton Rouge, has been hired to oversee the project.

Each district will have approximately 61/2 miles of road work done under the road repair project. St. Helena Parish Road Supervisor Albert Franklin said most of the work has been completed, with work left in District 4.