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Posted: Thursday, 30 January 2014 7:02AM

Why can't they keep the bridges open?

It's hell when Louisiana freezes over.

As we've seen the past couple of days, a blast of arctic air, mixed with freezing precipitation, is a real problem for folks in the South.

Why are winter storms so much more of a problem for us in Louisiana than they are up north, where they happen all the time?

Chicago doesn't seem to have such a problem. So, why do we?

The answer is pretty much in the question.

"Because we're not in Chicago," laughs Carlton Dufrechou, general manager of Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. "And the stuff happens to us every twenty years, whereas, in Chicago, it happens every year."

Dufrechou says it's just not practical to allocate large amounts of money every year to be prepared for something that's not likely to happen here.

He says we do have the de-icing equipment needed to handle winter storms. But, just like up north, the temperature needs to get above freezing to utilize it. Otherwise, anything that runs off just freezes again.

"The challenge is, until we get above freezing, we're pretty much stuck."

Now, Louisiana could be as well prepared as our northern cousins, of course. The answer, though, would be money...and lots of it.

"If funds were unlimited and everybody had the best dreams in the world we could do it," says Dufrechou. "The bottom line is it is so infrequent down here. If it happened more often, not only would the roadways have the equipment for it, but our drivers would be better prepared for it, too."

But, again...practicality.

"It is so infrequent that to try to prepare for a freeze like we had these past couple of days would be something that, basically is a twenty-year event."

So, could we see similar problems if another freeze hits next week?

"It depends on the magnitude, says Dufrechou. "The thing that got us this time was the sleet."

Meanwhile, it just makes more sense to put our money into events that are more likely, more often...like hurricanes.

Dufrechou says we handle those much better than Chicago does.


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Locations : ChicagoLouisiana
People : Carlton Dufrechou
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