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Engineers work to repair Ferriday’s water intake bridge

FERRIDAY — Engineers were onsite Thursday to do preliminary work to save Ferriday’s water intake structure on Old River, which is leaning dangerously to one side and — should it break — could cut off all water service to the town.

Last week, it was discovered that one of the supports connecting the catwalk on the intake structure to the last truss had broken, leaving the structure listing to one side.

“It is safe now for a short time, but as I addressed in my report to the mayor, this work needs to be done immediately,” said Engineer David Huval Sr., with the Lafayette-based firms Complete Engineering and Construction Inc. and Huval and Associates.

The companies Huval is with will order supplies over the weekend, and he said crews will be in place Monday to start the repair work pending the approval of the Ferriday administration.

The support failure was caused by 20 years of a fairly-weak potassium-based chemical that was added into the system at the intake structure running down the truss, Huval said.

Because of the location of the truss above the water and how the structure is set up, nobody noticed the chemical corrosion, he said.

Thursday, workers moved the structure into which the corrosive chemical is placed closer to the Old River levee to ensure the problem does not continue, Huval said.

The engineer estimated that the repairs would cost between $150,000 and $160,000.

“These repairs are temporary from the standpoint that we know a new water plant will be built in Ferriday that will replace the intake structure entirely,” Huval said. “We are fixing it for it to be there for two years.”

The Ferriday board of aldermen declared the situation at the intake structure an emergency at the beginning of the week, and — because of the declaration — are able to access $250,000 in state funds for the repairs.

The estimated cost of repairs if the structure fails completely is $1.25 million.