Those same contractors may be creating a new bridge in the near future if parish officials have their way.
Three police jurors from the Erath area and Ward One Consolidated Drainage District No. 1 Board were made aware that the three five-foot wide culverts placed under the track are not wide enough to handle the water flow during large rain or storm surge.
Erath Police Chief Gerald Hebert saw the three smaller culverts installed on Monday and questioned Police Juror Mark Poche about whether they were large enough to handle the water.
That got the ball rolling.
Police Jury engineer Gene Sellers examined the bridge and put the numbers together and determined that there should be seven six-foot wide culverts under the track instead of three five foot wide culverts. The bridge’s drainage capacity should be 70 percent more than it is today.
Police Juror Errol Domingues, coupled with the drainage board, Sellers and Police Jury attorney Paul Moresi met in the Erath City Hall meeting room to speak about the bridge.
Although invited, no one from D&L Railroad attended the Thursday meeting.
Instead of putting culverts, the bridge should have been rebuilt as it was which would have opened the drainage, Domingues said.
The drainage board agreed to have Moresi and Sellers contact someone from L&D Railroad and inform the company it has two weeks to come up with a plan to fix the drainage problem.
If the railroad company elects not to do anything about the drainage, the drainage board will look into removing the bridge with parish equipment.
“I really hate to remove the bridge ourselves,” said drainage board president William Vallo.
The timing of removing the new bridge and rebuilding another one is coming at a bad time. Harvesting of green rice is about to begin in Vermilion Parish in the next week or two at Planter’s Rice Mill in Abbeville. Hopper cars will be filled with green rice and transported by rail to New Iberia and then to somewhere in the United States.
However, if the track is not passable because the bridge is being repaired, Planter’s Mill will have to hire 18-wheelers to move the green rice.
The bridge collapsed July 8 at 10:30 in the morning while a train was crossing over it. The train was heading to Abbeville. One hopper car filled with rice fell off the track into the drainage ditch the bridge crosses over.