JEFFERSON, La. – Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Sherri H. LeBas announces the "Big Switch" or traffic shift to move motorists from the old lanes on the Huey P. Long Bridge to two new lanes in each direction this weekend.
"The ‘Big Switch’ is an important milestone which moves us one step closer to completing this $1.2 billion widening project for the more than 50,000 motorists who drive this route every day," Sec. LeBas said. "We still have work to do, but this is a landmark shift which will result in fewer delays and improved safety."
Since December 16, 1935, drivers have been using two notoriously narrow lanes on the Huey P. Long Bridge in New Orleans. Each of the new lanes on the bridge will be approximately one foot wider after the traffic shift. A new "fly-over" ramp will be used to access Clearview Parkway from the bridge in the Eastbank-bound direction. To access Jefferson Highway, a separate ramp will be used.
"Since Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration took office in 2008, we have invested an historic $4.1 billion in the improvement of our roadways and, in Jefferson Parish alone, the state has invested more than $706 million in approximately 195 miles of roadways and bridges," said Secretary LeBas. "We will continue to build on this progress through projects like the Huey P. Long Bridge and improve our infrastructure in order to create more jobs and opportunities for Louisiana families."
The opening of these new ramps will improve traffic coming off the bridge onto the Eastbank. Drivers accessing Clearview will no longer have to go through the traffic signals and will instead ‘fly-over’ Jefferson Highway. The traffic switch is necessary so that the old lanes can be removed and the new lanes widened. Demolition of the old lanes will begin April 30.
The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2013. The completed Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project will include three 11-foot lanes in each direction featuring eight-foot outside and two-foot inside shoulders. The total width will more than double from the current 18-foot wide driving surface to a 43-foot wide driving surface. Additionally, new intersections with traffic signals at Bridge City Avenue and Jefferson Highway are being constructed.
"We are proud to be running ahead of schedule on this vital bridge improvement," said Steve Spohrer, Program Director for Louisiana TIMED Managers, a joint venture managing the bridge widening project. "We are dedicated to delivering a wider, safer bridge quickly and safely."
Because of the historic nature of the traffic switch, a drawing is being held to randomly select two members of the public to take the final ride over the old lanes or the first ride on the new lanes. The "Last on the Lanes, First to the Future" drawing winners will be announced prior to the traffic switch.
Members of the public can visit www.hueypbridge.com/lastonthelanesfirsttothefuture to enter the drawing online. Entries also may be sent to Last on the Lanes, First to the Future, 4910 Pontchartrain Rd., Suite T, Jefferson, LA 70121. First and last name, an email address and phone number are required to enter the drawing.
The dates for the final ride on the old lanes and the first ride on the new lanes will be coordinated with the winning members of the public.
For more information go to www.hueypbridge.com<http://www.hueypbridge.com/, or follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.
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) 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.
The program is funded by a dedicated $0.04 per gallon gasoline and motor fuels tax. It was created by Act 16 of the 1989 Louisiana Legislature and was approved by a vote of the people. Projects include widening 536 miles of state highways, new construction or improvements to three major bridges and the improvements to both the Port of New Orleans and the Louis Armstrong International Airport.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is committed to delivering transportation and public works systems that enhance the quality of life. In addition to more than 16,600 miles of roadway, including over 890 miles of interstate, DOTD supports the development of the state’s aviation, marine and rail infrastructures. Through this work, we are able to facilitate economic development, create job opportunities, improve vital evacuation routes, and make critical freight corridors safer and more efficient.
For more information, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email email@example.com, or call DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Motorists can access up-to-date travel information by dialing 511 or by visiting www.511la.org. Out-of state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).