The second of two hurricane-damaged bridges over Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain reopened to traffic on Jan. 6, eight days earlier than scheduled, officials at the state's Dept. of Transportation and Development said.

Boh Bros. crews realign spans.(Photo by Boh Bros.)

Hurricane Katrina drove 435 sections of the "Twin Spans" out of alignment, with 64 of the sections having to be replaced, the department said. Work began Sept. 12, two weeks after the storm hit and continued around the clock.

The newly opened bridge, which carries two westbound lanes 5.4 miles between Slidell and New Orleans, is the second phase of the project, now estimated at $35 million. New Orleans-based Boh Bros. Construction Co. LLC is the contractor.

In phase one, finished in October, the eastbound span was reopened, using deck sections from the westbound bridge to replace damaged eastbound segments. Phase two included realigning some of the westbound span's deck elements and filling in gaps with prefabricated steel sections.

Related Links:
  • Highways and State Roads Washed Away by Katrina,
  • Hurricane Katrina Aftermath - Some Repairs Under Way For Roads, Ports and Airport,
  • After a Pause for Rita, Lake Pontchartrain's Twin-span Repairs to Resume,
  • The state agency plans to open bids in the spring for a new, higher-level, three-lane bridge.

    Mark Lambert, a spokesman for the state Dept. of Transportation and Development, says the cost of the replacement twin bridges is estimated at $600 million. Each span will carry three lanes. He says the Federal Highway Administration announced on Jan. 5 that the new bridges will be 100% federally funded.

    U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said FHWA helped the state agency to expedite the contracting for the Twin Spans' repairs. He also said the contract included incentives for finishing work early and penalties for being late.

    The funds for the Louisiana project are expected to come from the $2.75 billion Congress recently approved for emergency road and bridge repairs in Gulf Coast states and other areas around the country hit by natural disasters.