Just feet from where a man’s body was found floating in a drainage canal near the new Lafitte Greenway about 10 a.m. Friday, fences block off entrances to a pedestrian bridge that used to connect the two parts of North Lopez Street.
That rickety wooden structure has been closed since before the Greenway officially opened Nov. 6, forcing pedestrians to take alternate routes on Jefferson Davis Parkway or Broad Street.
Authorities did not release the dead man’s name or cause of death, but family members of a man missing since Sunday fear he may have died while taking a shortcut across the canal.
Relatives of 60-year-old David Thompson said he was last seen Sunday night while delivering a Bible to his girlfriend on a route that crossed the canal. He never made it. Family members said they worry he may have slipped on one of the many concrete beams across the deep waterway.
Police said there were no obvious signs of trauma to the dead man’s body and that foul play is not suspected.
Sophie Harris, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of Lafitte Greenway, called the man’s death a “tragic occurrence.”
“Safety is our utmost concern, and we’ve been working to advocate for high-quality fencing and safe and secure bridges across the canal,” she said.
In June, the city’s Department of Public Works advised New Orleanians to use “alternate routes” until a new bridge can be built to replace the current wooden structure.
City spokesman Hayne Rainey said plans for three new bridges across the canal at North Lopez, North White and North Gayoso streets are still in the design phase. Those bridges are not scheduled to be installed until spring 2017.
WWL-TV’s Paul Murphy contributed to the story.