Gov. Jindal Opens Traffic on New $803 Million Twin Span Project
Thursday, September 08, 2011 at 12:03:20 PM

SLIDELL – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal was joined by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis, Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Sherri H. Lebas, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez and other state and local officials for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Interstate 10/Twin Span Bridge. At the ceremony, the Governor also discussed how the old Twin Span will be recycled to improve hurricane protection and enhance area fisheries.

Governor Jindal said, "This $803 million Twin Span Bridge replacement bridge is one of the largest public works project in our state’s history, completed on-time and on-budget with federal funds following Hurricane Katrina. We knew that it wasn’t just enough to rebuild what Katrina destroyed. We were determined to build back better than ever before, and this new bridge is an important milestone signaling that Louisiana is now open for business and providing opportunities to people all across the country."

"No one has to be reminded of the storm’s devastating impacts, but the new Twin Span Bridge is a testimony of the resiliency, pride and determination that can inspire Louisiana to even greater accomplishments," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

"As the newest part of the New Orleans landscape, this bridge will ease congestion, allow area residents to spend more time doing things they enjoy and serve as an evacuation route," said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. "It is a masterpiece of American engineering and can help the region start a new chapter."

"The new bridge will reduce congestion, improve safety, enhance mobility and help facilitate economic development in St. Tammany and Orleans Parishes," said St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis.

"Today we’re celebrating the on-time and on-budget completion of the new Twin Span Bridge," said DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas. "It will improve the quality of life for Louisianans by reducing traffic congestion, improving safety, enhancing mobility and facilitating economic development opportunities."

The Twin Span Bridge crosses Lake Pontchartrain on Interstate 10 to link the cities of Slidell and New Orleans. The bridge was destroyed on August 29, 2005 by storm surge from Hurricane Katrina. The Federal Highway Administration provided total funding for the effort because I-10 is a critical national corridor. Interstate 10 is the southernmost, east-to-west transcontinental highway in the United States. It stretches 2,460 miles between Jacksonville, Fla. and Santa Monica, Calif.

The original Twin Span, which opened to traffic in 1965, was destroyed by the rapidly rising flood waters of Lake Pontchartrain. The storm surge, along with the wave action driven by the hurricane force winds, lifted many of the 600,000 pound concrete bridge segments from their anchors. Hundreds of segments were misaligned and many others washed into the lake. Temporary repairs restored two lanes of traffic (one eastbound and one westbound) within 46 days of the storm. Within 130 days of the storm, additional repairs opened the damaged bridge to four travel lanes.

Work began in August 2006 to build a new Twin Span Bridge. The modern, six-lane structure (three eastbound and three westbound travel lanes) will help relieve congestion, improve mobility and enhance safety for the more than 55,000 drivers who make a daily trip across Lake Pontchartrain.

The new bridge replaces a four-lane structure (two eastbound and two westbound travel lanes) that was placed in service in 1965. The new bridge is taller, wider and more robust than its predecessor. It stands 30 feet above the water and includes a high-rise navigational segment that provides 80 feet of vertical clearance for marine traffic. The mainline sections of the bridge are 21 feet taller than the original Twin Span, making it less vulnerable to storm surge in the event of a future hurricane.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development designed the new bridge for a 100-year lifespan. It’s the first bridge in Louisiana constructed of high-performance concrete that’s stronger, denser and less porous than typical concrete. These factors combine to make the high-performance concrete more resistant to saltwater induced corrosion. The bridge features reinforced concrete walls, which act as saddles to prevent the bridge girders from moving laterally. The reinforced walls increase the bridge’s ability to withstand both storm surge and barge collisions. The new Twin Span Bridge is also equipped with an electrical power system and state-of-the-art fiber optic technology to support Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) tools such as video cameras and dynamic message boards. The ITS tools will allow DOTD personnel to rapidly and efficiently monitor and manage traffic conditions on the bridge.

Recycled Twin Span

With material from the old Twin Span, the Jindal Administration worked local governments and non-governmental organizations to ensure that the old spans will be used to improve hurricane protection and enhance area fisheries.

DOTD is providing approximately 658 spans and 586 substructure elements to the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration to be utilized in their shoreline protection project on Lake Borgne. DOTD is also working with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to utilize rubble from the damaged Twin Span Bridge to develop a coastal reef in the middle of Lake Pontchartrain – to enhance fish and wildlife growth for the area. Additionally, St. Tammany Parish has begun construction of a fishing pier in Lake Pontchartrain that uses 71 spans from the original Twin Span Bridges. The pier will also include a water station and lighting, a small covered pavilion and other amenities for fishing on Lake Pontchartrain.