It was midnight on a fall evening in 1945 when this writer and other initiates into a social fraternity at Tulane were dropped off on the top of the Huey Long Bridge in Bridge City. Our assignment was to get back to the frat house on Broadway in New Orleans any way we could. No problem. We made it.
But it was an interesting experience on one of the most historic structures in Louisiana.
Now, that bridge is in the final stages of enlargement and modernization. Completion was originally scheduled for the end of this year but has been moved up to June 16 thanks to effective planning.
One of the bridge’s most feared features in the past has been its narrowness with only two nine-foot lanes going in each direction with no extra space for disabled vehicles. Two railroad tracks were constructed in between the roadways and will stay in place. Needless to say, we got a good view of the overall bridge during the initiation. Safety, however, was not a problem because there was little traffic that night. But what did pass by emphasized the close confines of the structure.
The bridge has been enlarged to three 12-foot lanes in each direction and shoulders for disabled cars. Also, entrances and exits will be more direct with overpasses providing non-stop approach from both sides of the river.
Overall, the driving surface has been increased from 18 to 43 feet wide going in each direction.
Though all of the lanes are not usable at the present time, they should be by the opening. Some 50,000 vehicles use the bridge daily.
The state will celebrate the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a race which could become an annual affair. And as the Huey gets new life, St. Charles Parish travellers will get a much improved second route into the big city next door which will make everyday travel there easier for many of us.