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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Sunshine Bridge
LA-70 Mississippi River Crossing At Donaldsonville
Donaldsonville, Louisiana

Sunshine Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI: 614704260200721.
• Location: River Mile 167.4.
• River Elevation: 3 Feet.
• Highway: LA-70.
• Daily Traffic Count: 16,000 (2003).
• Bridge Type: Continuous Steel Truss Through Deck.
• Length: 8,236 Feet Overall, 825 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 4 Lanes.
• Navigation Channel Width: 750 Foot Clear Channel.
• Height Above Water: 170 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened August 1964 (Dedicated October 12, 1964).
The Sunshine Bridge was built as the classic bridge to nowhere, given that there was little population or economic activity on either side of the river. When first opened, the bridge served mostly local farm traffic and sugar cane trucks. It was planned that the bridge would be part of a larger highway project called the Acadian Throughway, and later, the South Central Louisiana Tollway. Those projects never materialized, but the Sunshine Bridge has been connected to the regional traffic grid as roads in the area have been developed and improved. Since the bridge opened, the economy in this area has grown by leaps and bounds, largely due to the improved transportation.

Prior to 1964, there were several ferry boat operations carrying traffic across the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The Sunshine Bridge replaced the ferry at Donaldsonville, and was the first bridge over the river between the two Huey P. Long Bridges (US-190 at Baton Rouge and US-90 at New Orleans). The Sunshine Bridge operated as a toll bridge until 2001 when the 50 cent toll for westbound traffic was eliminated.

It was proposed that this bridge be named after Louisiana Governor James Davis. Davis, however, requested that the bridge be named the Sunshine Bridge rather than carry his name. In addition to being elected Governor in 1944 and 1960, Davis was also in the music industry. The bridge name was taken from his hit song ‘You Are My Sunshine’. Davis was subsequently inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Update—the Sunshine Bridge was closed for a period of time on February 12, 2010, after a fatal head-on crash on the bridge. A tanker truck and SUV collided after one of the vehicles crossed the center line. Fortunately, the ammonia in the tanker did not leak.

The photo above is a view looking northeast at the south face of the massive truss span. The through truss superstructure is nearly 3,300 feet long. The deck truss spans leading to the main truss on each side of the bridge are also massive structures.

Sunshine Bridge
These photos are two views from the west side of the Mississippi River. The photo above is the south face of the approaches and main truss span as seen from the access road connecting to highway LA-18, which runs along the river levee. The photo below is a similar view from about one-half mile to the west where the access road for LA-18 intersects LA-70.

Sunshine Bridge
Sunshine Bridge
These two photos are the east approach to the Sunshine Bridge as seen when traveling westbound on highway LA-70 towards the river crossing. The photo above is climbing an incline to an overpass over a railroad track and the ramps to highway LA-44. The photo below is traveling on that overpass towards the bridge approach spans.

Sunshine Bridge
Sunshine Bridge
The photo above is a view crossing the bridge westbound while traveling through the truss span. The photo below is looking south across a farm field towards the north face of the Sunshine Bridge. This vantage point, looking southeast from highway LA-18 located two miles from the bridge, shows just how long the truss span is.

Sunshine Bridge

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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