The Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, is a cantilevered steel through truss bridge that carries a two-track railroad line over the Mississippi River at mile 106.1 with two lanes of US 90 on each side of the central tracks.
Opened in December 1935 to replace the Walnut Street Ferry, the bridge was named for the extremely popular and notorious governor, Huey P. Long, who had just been assassinated on September 8 of that year. The bridge was the first Mississippi River span built in Louisiana and the 29th along the length of the river. It is a few miles upriver from the city of New Orleans. The East Bank entrance is at Elmwood, Louisiana and the West Bank at Bridge City. It was designed by Polish-American engineer Ralph Modjeski.
The Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project is a TIMED (Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development) Program project. The TIMED Program was created by Act 16 of the 1989 Louisiana Legislature, was voted for by the people and is the single largest transportation program in state history. The Program is designed to enhance economic development in Louisiana through an investment in transportation projects.
The $1.2 billion widening project started in April 2006 and is the first change to the structure since it opened in 1935. The project will expand the structure from two 9-foot lanes to three 11-foot lanes with a 2-foot inside shoulder and an 8-foot outside shoulder. It will also include new signalized intersections to replace the traffic circle at Jefferson Highway and Bridge City Avenue in Jefferson Parish, LA.
This seven year long four-phase project is slated to be completed in 2013. The timeline of the project continues to be on track as two of the four phases have been completed.
Phase I: Main Support Widening (Piers)
In this phase, completed in May 2009, four river piers and one land pier were widened to support the additional lanes. Reinforcing framework and concrete filled the void sections of the piers to strengthen them. In addition, w-shaped metal bridge struts were anchored to the upper part of each pier to support the additional new trusses and the existing truss.
Phase II: Railroad Modifications
In October 2006, work to relocate five selected railroad supports was done to facilitate the construction of the new approaches. This phase was completed in June 2008.
Phase III: Main Bridge Widening (Truss)
Estimated to be completed in 2012, this phase will widen the existing truss on either side to accommodate new travel lanes and shoulders.
The bridge, which is composed of four spans, will be erected one span at a time. In November 2009, construction of the West Bank Anchor Span began by using the stick-built method, meaning each element of the span will be individually placed. In order to minimize the use of falsework and river closures in the navigation or auxiliary channels the three remaining spans will be done through the span-by-span method. This method will involve large barges transporting a pre-assembled span section, positioning it under the bridge, and lifting it into position using strand jacks. Temporary stability frames made up of floorbeams and towers will be used to support the span section during the lifting process.
The construction progress of this phase can be viewed by accessing two of six web cameras installed — HPL Bridge Construction Web Cameras.
Phase IV: New Approaches Construction
During this phase of the project, the two existing 9-foot lanes will be widened to three 11-foot lane in each direction with 8-foot shoulders and 2-foot inside shoulders. The traffic circles at each end of the bridge will be replaced with signalized intersections. Also, new roadway and elevated structures will be constructed.