Due to the rising Mississippi River causing the closure of the New Roads/St. Francisville ferry, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has opened the John James Audubon Bridge. This emergency opening will accommodate traffic that has lost river-crossing access when the ferry closed. The ferry, which carried approximately 720 vehicles per day according to 2009-2010 DOTD statistics, is permanently closed with the opening of the Audubon Bridge.
“High water closing the ferry would have obviously caused an inconvenience for commuters, so using the new Audubon Bridge is a logical alternative,” said DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas, P.E. “Since this is an emergency situation, we’ve talked to the contractor and determined that it’s 100% safe to allow traffic on the bridge at this time. However, there’s still construction work remaining on the bridge. Drivers should be aware that future road and bridge impacts may be necessary to complete the construction that remains on the project.”
The Mississippi River is now at the 53-ft mark at the Red River Landing gauge, which is when, based on the state’s protocols, the St. Francisville ferry service closes. The newly opened bridge allows commuters to experience uninterrupted access across the river.
The John James Audubon Bridge is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere and connects Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana parishes. The new bridge over the Mississippi River includes almost 12 miles of new roadways leading up to the bridge, and connecting U.S. 61 to La. 1. While the structure is itself a significant engineering achievement, it also is the first design-build project undertaken by the DOTD.