I-10 Businesses Hurt by Lengthy Interstate Closure in La.

November 28, 2007

Businesses along Interstate 10 between Lafayette and Baton Rouge, La., say they lost numerous potential customers when a gas well blowout forced detours along a 55-mile stretch.

The interstate was closed Nov. 15 and reopened Nov. 25.

The closure effectively shut off traffic from the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge through the towns of Henderson and Breaux Bridge, which are home to many gas stations, truck stops, motels, restaurants and fast-food outlets that cater to travelers.

“We are not sure if we will sue yet, but we’ve heard that other businesses in Breaux Bridge are going to sue them,” said Harvey Huval, a manager of Pat’s Fisherman’s Wharf in Henderson and the owner’s son. “We just haven’t made up our mind yet.”

Bridas Energy, which has offices in Houston and Baton Rouge, is the owner of the gas well that exploded a week-and-a-half ago. Officials with Bridas Energy would not comment on the possibility of lawsuits when contacted for this story by The (Lafayette) Advertiser newspaper.

Rollie Cantu, assistant chief of police of Breaux Bridge said the I-10 shutdown affected nearly all the businesses in his area and may affect taxes collected by the city from those businesses.

“The city won’t be able to tell how much revenue we lost immediately, but it’s pretty obvious that businesses were hurt by the shutdown,” he said. “You could go down to a lot of busy streets, and nobody had customers.”

Henderson Mayor Cherbin Collette said his town, like others along I-10, was adversely affected by the shutdown, but he said his town will not sue Bridas Energy.

“We depend a lot on the interstate. It brings a lot of business for the town of Henderson,” Collette said. “I heard some of the businesses around Henderson and Breaux Bridge will more than likely sue. Some have talked about it, but I don’t know if they will. But the town of Henderson will not sue. We’re not talking about suing because this was just an accident that happened and that’s it.”

Information from: The Advertiser, www.acadiananow.com

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