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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Huey P. Long Bridge
US-90 Mississippi River Crossing At New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana

Huey P. Long Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI: 022600060100001.
• Location: River Mile 106.1.
• River Elevation: 0 Feet (Sea Level).
• Highway: US-90.
• Railroad: New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.
• Daily Traffic Count: 50,500 (2003).
• Daily Traffic Count: 5 Trains Per Day (Estimated).
• Bridge Type: Continuous Steel Truss Through Deck.
• Bridge Length: 22,996 Feet (Railroad), 8,076 Feet (Highway).
• Longest Span: 790 Feet.
• Bridge Width: 2 Traffic Lanes On Each Side Of The 2 Railroad Tracks.
• Navigation Channel Width: There Are 3 Channels, The Widest Is 750 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 153 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened December 1935.
The Huey P. Long Bridge in New Orleans is one scary tall narrow bridge. The high volume of traffic doesn't help things, nor do the tight turns and steep grades on the approach ramps. Just as I was taking the final photo on my visit in late 2005, a train was inching its way across the bridge. That was a noisy, loud, shaky experience even when standing on the ground some 150 feet below the tracks.

It is hard to grasp how big this metal monster really is. The deck is flat to accommodate rail traffic, whereas high bridges like this normally have a hump shape. As a result, the highway ramps go up-hill at a rather strong grade, while the railroad approaches are much more gradual, and extend miles to each side of the river crossing. The piers are equally massive, but much of that structure is below water. Given that New Orleans is built on silt, bedrock doesn't begin until you dig down over 1,000 feet below the riverbed. That makes it impractical to use bedrock for the base of the bridge pier foundations. Instead, the piers depend on their size and mass to stay in place.

The Huey P. Long Bridge has been rated as ‘unacceptable’ and has been high on the priority list for replacement for many years. A project to rebuild the bridge in place was started in 2005. The plan is to first build the existing piers wider to support a wider bridge. Then the traffic decks will be removed, and new truss structures will be built parallel to the existing truss structure supported by the newly widened piers. These new trusses will each carry 3 lanes of traffic. New approach roads will be built to carry the wider highway to the new truss spans. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2013.

Note that there are two bridges over the Mississippi River in Louisiana that are named after Huey P. Long, longtime governor of that state. The other Huey P. Long Bridge is a very similarly configured structure carrying US-190 over the river at Baton Rouge.

The photos above and below are the first two photos of a three photo set showing views from the traffic lanes heading northwest into New Orleans on US-90. The photo below is the entrance ramp to the bridge from Bridge City, Louisiana. The rail line cannot climb the same grades as motor vehicles, so the railroad tracks are high overhead. The photo below is a sweeping curve on the very narrow traffic lanes as we continue to climb towards the level of the railroad tracks and the main truss structure.

Huey P. Long Bridge
Huey P. Long Bridge
The photo above is the third photo of a three photo set showing views from the traffic lanes heading northwest into New Orleans on US-90. The photo above is nearly the top of the approach ramps traveling adjacent to the main truss structure. The photo below is looking south from the New Orleans side of the river towards the northeast corner of the deck truss approach spans. The bridge was in the process of being painted when this photo was taken.

Huey P. Long Bridge
Huey P. Long Bridge
These two photos are views looking east at the northwest corner of the Huey P. Long Bridge from the New Orleans side of the Mississippi River. The photo above is a view from near the intersection of Laitram Lane and River Road. The photo below is from the river side of the levee. Both photos were taken shortly after the Katrina disaster.

Huey P. Long Bridge

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