LAFOURCHE – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, along with State Representative Loulan Pitre, Jr. and the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, hosted a dedication ceremony for the new Champagne – Harrelson Bridge on Tuesday, July 27.
Representative Pitre served as Master of Ceremonies and led a host of local officials, family and friends in the dedication of the bridge in memory of Detective Chaney Champagne and Detective Sergeant Kurt “Woody” Harrelson, two Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s deputies who were killed in an automobile accident. July 31, 2004, marks the one-year anniversary of their death.
The two detectives were on their way to Thibodaux when a call came over the radio that, just a few miles up the road, an elderly woman had driven her vehicle into a canal, and her car was beginning to fill with water. The officers turned on their overhead lights and responded to the call. As they negotiated a slight curve in the highway, their car spun out of control on the slick, wet road and crashed into an oncoming truck. Both officers were killed immediately. The elderly woman survived.
Subsequently, House Bill 1540 was signed by the governor, naming the new bridge over Bayou Lafourche the Champagne – Harrelson Bridge in memory of the two officers.
The new bridge was completed in May 2004. The project involved construction of a new vertical lift span bridge between LA 1 and LA 308 over Bayou Lafourche. The bridge was constructed at the end of LA 654 on the east side. The new bridge replaces the existing pontoon bridge in Mathews, which is now closed and being removed. The project also widened LA 1 and LA 308, slightly realigned and reconstructed LA 654, improved drainage, and added new traffic signals to assist traffic flow. Coastal Bridge Co. LLC, of Baton Rouge, was the contractor for the project. The DOTD Project Engineer was Alan Weber.
Remarks were also given by DOTD Legislative Liaison Juba Diez, Louisiana State Senator Reggie Dupre, Jr., Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, and Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre.
“The Champagne – Harrelson Bridge will serve as a legacy to the selfless acts of these public servants,” Sheriff Webre said. “It is a fitting tribute for two outstanding law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.”