Bayou bridge blues – RR project raises concerns
A new cement bridge replacing a wooden one on Adams Bayou just south of Orange Lions City Park has the attention of avid area boaters.
Those include several members of the Orange Boating Club who recently voted to support a motion against the bridge.
The Union Pacific project is near completion after about three months, however, club member Craig Stark says it’s only become clear in the last few weeks the new bridge will be 6 to 8 inches lower than the old one.
“Most boats could hardly get under the old one,” he said. “I am really concerned about flooding … [and] when the water is up it will certainly back up.”
Raquel Espinoza, media contact for the southern region of Union Pacific, told The Record, “The new concrete bridge over Adams Bayou was designed to provide a secure structure that ensures trains can travel safely. It is a few inches lower and has wider spans, which will improve the bayou’s water flow. These changes were outlined prior to securing all of the necessary permits.”
The Orange Boating Club was established in 1952 and hosts several recreational events throughout the year for members and invited guests.
“It seems like a ‘no-brainer’ that any water crossing should be raised – not lowered,” said club member Dayle Foreman. “Leaving the bridge the same would be better than lowering it.”
Other club members shared their thoughts with The Record, including Randy Savage, Jerry Bell, Don Spurlock, Mike Murphy and Brent P. Norwood.
“It cuts out our right of way and will possibly flood homes due to the low clearance of the new bridge,” said Savage.
Bell agreed with Foreman as far as raising the bridge goes.
“With an increased elevation there would be less possibilities for debris accumulation underneath the bridge due to flooding,” Bell said. “The elevation would allow for the assumption that all streams should be navigable by boat and the continued opportunity for marine sports such as fishing as well as sightseeing.”
Norwood added, “The low bridge they have now almost killed [a friend] when we were in high school. He hit his head on it while running underneath it and it knocked him out of the boat.”
“Disappointing,” said Murphy. “By changing the bridge to where you can’t go underneath – it eliminates access to a great scenic trip. Especially in the fall.”
After a board meeting last week, club members issued the following statement:
“The officers and board of directors for the Orange Boating Club voted unanimously that they are against the lowering of the clearance to the water for the Southern and Pacific (now part of Union Pacific) bridge on Adams bayou. In discussions we felt compelled to speak out to protect the navigable waterways throughout our region. Adams bayou contains some of the most scenic, unspoiled and beautiful areas in the country and this lowering of the bridge will make it near impossible to navigate.
“We hope that our local elected officials and community leaders will join us. We believe that the Southern and Pacific railways engineers can design a higher clearance at least in one section of the bridge. If you agree you can send e-mail messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.”