JEFFERSON, La. — The Huey P. Long Bridge was dedicated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) at a ceremony to unveil a plaque mounted on an original pier. The designation makes the New Orleans structure one of fewer than 250 ASCE landmarks in the world including the Eiffel Tower, the Panama Canal, and the United States Capitol Building. A full list of the landmarks is available at www.asce.org.
"The Huey P. Long Bridge is an example of how engineers push the limits of their knowledge of materials, design theories, and methods to advance the state of the art of engineering," said ASCE National President Andrew Herrmann at the ceremony.
The Huey P. Long Bridge is now in the final phase of a $1.2 billion widening project. When completed in 2013, the bridge will have three 11-foot lanes in each direction with eight-foot outside and two-foot inside shoulders. The total width will more than double the current 18-foot-wide driving surface to a 43-foot-wide driving surface.
The project also includes construction of new elevated bridge approaches and ramps. Additionally, new intersections with traffic signals at Bridge City Avenue and Jefferson Highway are being constructed.
"The history of this bridge is almost as colorful as its namesake," said Louisiana Secretary of Transportation and Development Sherri LeBas. "While the bridge was an amazing engineering accomplishment when it was built, it is not how we would build a bridge now. We are showing the world how a major river bridge can and should be rebuilt for today’s drivers."
The Huey P. Long Bridge was a remarkable construction and engineering feat. Design of the bridge began in 1926. At that time, engineers had limited tools for measuring and calculating unlike today. They designed the bridge to be extra strong to deal with difficult, sandy soil conditions and to err on the side of safety.
"The ASCE nationally is recognizing what civil engineers in New Orleans have always known," said New Orleans ASCE President Malay Ghose Hajra, Ph.D., P.E. "The design and construction of the Huey P. Long Bridge was a groundbreaking achievement for our country and the world. We are extremely proud to have played a role in getting this historic recognition for this historic bridge."
"The Huey P" was the first Mississippi River Bridge in New Orleans when it opened in 1935. It was the longest railroad bridge in the world for about 15 years. Prior to the bridge being built, railroad cars had to be ferried across the river.
Louisiana Governor Huey P Long was responsible for the addition of driving lanes for automobiles during construction of the bridge, which began in 1932. He provided the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad with $7 million to build the two narrow lanes in each direction. The lanes were adequate for the types of vehicles and limited traffic of the time, but are not wide enough by current standards.
"Huey Long prided himself on forward-thinking and well-designed infrastructure projects," said Russell Long Mosely, the great-grandson of Huey P. Long. "Although completed in 1935, the Huey P. Long Bridge in New Orleans remains structurally sound. It serves millions of motorists each year and remains one of the longest and highest railroad bridges in the United States. The family of Huey Long is delighted that this bridge has been designated as a Civil Engineering Landmark."
A five-minute video telling the story of the Huey P Long Bridge is available at www.youtube.com/hueypbridgewidening. For more information, visit www.hueypbridge.com.
The $1.2 billion Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project is one of 16 projects in the $4.6 billion Louisiana Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED; www.timedla.com) Program, managed by Louisiana TIMED Managers (LTM), a joint venture of GEC Inc., Parsons-Brinckerhoff Inc., and THE LPA GROUP INCORPORATED. It is the single largest transportation program in Louisiana history and is designed to enhance economic development and improve evacuation routes and safety through an investment in infrastructure.