If youíre into running and sightseeing, thereís no better way to spend Fatherís Day Sunday than to go to Bridge City and enter the first Huey P. Long Bridge Run. There will be a lot of memories revealed in the minds of at least the older folks in our community.
Many will recall the days of crossing the Mississippi River by ferry in Luling before the Huey P. Long Bridge was opened in 1935. Though it was a wonderful experience to leave the car and enjoy the open air breeze across the mighty river, it was a magical occasion to get a bridge that would let them go from Luling to Canal Street where we shopped on a trip shortened by up to one hour.
The bridge has just undergone a $1.2 billion renovation, expanding its automobile runways to more than double in size and providing non-stop overpasses at bridge entrances. The two original narrow driving lanes in each direction have been increased to three 12-foot lanes plus an eight-foot and three-foot lane on each side for parking and to give a little extra breathing space.
This writer went through a fraternity initiation in New Orleans when he was taken to the top of the Huey Long Bridge at midnight during the ceremony and left there to find his way home in 1946. Of course, the traffic was light in those days so there was no big problem. But crossing the Huey on foot at midnight was a memorable experience indeed.
The Huey was one of the first railroad and automobile bridges to cross the Mississippi River. It was the first span built across the river in Louisiana and was opened in December 1935, just three months after our popular Gov. Huey P. Long, whom it was named after, was assassinated on Sept. 8 of that year. The bridge opening had elaborate ceremonies, including a historical transportation pageant that preceded trains going over the bridge. Today, there are 29 bridges along the length of the river.
The run will start in Bridge City on the West Bank at 8 a.m. Shuttles will be provided from East Bank parking lots on Clearview Avenue and Jefferson Highway. Packets may be picked up at the race starting line at 6 a.m.
A dedication ceremony for the bridge expansion project will follow the race starting at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. And they hope to have a character actor entertain the crowd in the same way Huey Long would have done it at the first bridge dedication in 1935.
The Great Huey P. Long Bridge Run will be part of the Louisiana bridge run series which is a joint venture produced also by United Way of St. Charles Bridge Run held in April and Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent Connection in June. It will give runners and walkers an opportunity to see part of their world from a new standpoint.