City-parish officials have delayed structural repairs to the Perkins Road overpass until after the annual Wearin’ of the Green St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Jim Ferguson, the city-parish drainage and bridge engineer, says the delay was put in at the request of parade organizers who didn’t want to change the route and nearby restaurant and bar owners who were concerned about losing business on one of their busiest days of the year. “We looked at it real hard structurally and safety-wise and we decided to allow the overpass to remain open during the parade,” Ferguson says.
Steps will be taken to protect the bridge and onlookers. Law enforcement will control the parade to make sure only one float is on the top of the bridge at a time and plastic fencing will be put under the overpass. “We don’t want a baseball-size chunk of concrete to fall off and go through somebody’s windshield,” Ferguson says. The original plans were to close the overpass at the end of 2008 or this month and start the four-month repair process. Now, the $2 million project will start after the parade, set for March 14. For a recent Business Report story about the overpass work and how it will impact the surrounding neighborhood, click here.—Timothy Boone