Back in the good old days of the mid-thirties, we residents of southeast Louisiana were treated to a new benefit: the ability to drive across the Mississippi River in our Model A’s on the Huey Long Bridge. It was the first bridge across the river in the state of Louisiana and one of the most spectacular bridges in the U. S. at the time. The four lanes were each nine feet wide, plenty enough room for our narrow cars then.
But when the late 1900s came, traffic on the bridge was bumper to bumper with SUVs and 18-wheelers almost side-swiping one another as they tripled the overload. It was rather crowded and spine-tlingling, to say the least, to be cringed atop Ole Man River.
Of course, meanwhile, the Hale Boggs Bridge came along and eased the burden for those living in St. Charles Parish. Now, most drivers in St. Charles use it to cross the river though some find it easier to go to the Huey if they are headed to some sections of New Orleans.
Plans were still made to widen the Huey to help it bear the load. After several years of preparation and work, it is being enlarged to three 11-foot lanes, one eight-foot outer shoulder and one two-foot inner shoulder going in each direction atop the structure plus non-stop entrances and exits to the bridge. It is scheduled to be completed in fall of next year.
But very soon, possibly in a couple of weeks, according to an article by Paul Rioux in the Times Picayune, part of the renovated structure will be opened as four new temporary 10-foot east and west bound lanes while the old lanes are demolished to make room for the additional lanes and shoulders on each side.
The renovated bridge should provide all the amenities needed to make it easier to travel between east and west in southeast Louisiana. It’s an historic structure and deserves to be preserved in a serviceable state to make driving in our water-filled coastal paradise a greater pleasure.