Road conditions improve as Katrina cleanup continues

| Monday, September 12, 2005

Exactly two weeks after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf States , roadways throughout the region continued to improve, and officials began announcing exact dates for specific road repairs.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry announced that the Twinspan Bridge, which spans Lake Pontchartrain, will be repaired and functional within 45 days, thanks to more than $30 million in emergency repair funding, the Lafayette Daily Advertiserreported on Monday, Sept. 12.

Roads in and around the New Orleans area - which were ordered closed by the Louisiana State Police after the storm - remain out of service. Large portions of Interstate 10, including the Twinspan Bridges, were destroyed by the storm and flooding.

A number of smaller Louisiana roadways are closed due to flooding or unspecified structural damage, including:

  • U.S. 51 at Interstate 10;
  • U.S. 61 at Kenner City, U.S. 61 south at Shrewsbury Road, and U.S. 61 south at the St. Charles Parish line;
  • U.S. 90 at Interstate 310, and at the Orleans Parish line;
  • River Road at the Orleans Parish line;
  • Interstate 55 southbound south of Ponchatoula;
  • Highway 11 at Little Irish Bayou, and south of Slidell.

In Alabama, storm-related road problems - including flooding and downed power lines - are beginning to ease in storm-stricken Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Most roadways that were closed by the storm were open as of Tuesday, Sept. 6, although drivers remain under strong advisories to avoid the area if possible.

Road conditions have improved dramatically in southern Mississippi. With the exception of U.S. 90, which runs through the state from Alabama to Louisiana, all roadways are open in the state. However, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety is still urging caution as hurricane cleanup continues throughout the area.

Because of the nature of a natural disaster, road conditions and closings are prone to change at a moment's notice. For an up-to-date list of closings in specific areas, visit the following states' Web sites for more information:

Louisiana: http://www.lsp.org/roadandincident.nsf/$ViewAll?OpenView

Mississippi: http://www.gomdot.com/

Alabama: http://www.dot.state.al.us/closures/

Florida: http://www.floridadisaster.org/

In an interview with The AP on Sept. 4, Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said repairs to Interstate 10 and U.S. 90 alone would cost at least $1.5 billion.

At least 100 miles of roadway on U.S. 90 in Louisiana were "basically wiped out," Mineta told The AP, and I-10 in most areas of New Orleans would be unusable until water surrounding the ramps receded.

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