New Orleans reopens; roads across region improving

| Friday, September 16, 2005

With plans for parts of New Orleans to reopen to residents during the weekend, Louisiana State Police have established safe routes for re-entry into the city.

According to a press release from Sgt. Mark Mix, the main routes for re-entry into the east bank of Jefferson Parish are:

  • U.S. 61; and
  • U.S. 51 from Interstate 10 to U.S. 61;

The main re-entry routes into the west bank of Jefferson Parish are:

  • U.S. 90 east;
  • Louisiana Highway 1 south;
  • Louisiana Highway 3127 south; and
  • Louisiana Highway 18 east.

However, the following roadways will remain closed near the parish:

  • Interstate 10 east at U.S. 61;
  • Interstate 55 south of Ponchatoula;
  • Huey P. Long Bridge between U.S. 90 and U.S. 61;
  • U.S. 90B (raised portion); and
  • Crescent City Connection Bridge.

Repairs on two of the area's roadways most damaged by the storm are also under way. On Monday, Sept. 12, work began on the Interstate 10 Twinspan Bridge in New Orleans, which was severely damaged in the storm and subsequent flooding.

"Restoring this critical eastward link for New Orleans will speed recovery of the city and the entire Gulf region," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said in a press release. "Every day we're getting road work started to reconnect the region and help people rebuild."

According to the press release, the work was contracted to New Orleans-based Boh Bros. Construction Co. Under the contract, the bridges must be finished within 45 days, and includes a $50,000-per-day incentive to finish the work ahead of schedule.

At least 100 miles of roadway on U.S. 90 in Louisiana were also "basically wiped out," Mineta told The Associated Press. A temporary roadway will be completed within 90 days while the permanent highway is reconstructed, the Department of Transportation press release said.

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

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

The following is the complete list of roadways that remain closed throughout Louisiana as of Friday morning, Sept. 16:

  • All roads into St. Bernard Parish;
  • All roads into Plaquemine Parish for non-parish residents;
  • Interstate 10 east at U.S. 51;
  • Interstate 10 east at Causeway Boulevard;
  • Interstate 10 west at Oak Harbor exit;
  • Interstate 10 Twinspan Bridge;
  • U.S. 90 at the Orleans Parish line;
  • U.S. 90 at Interstate 310;
  • Interstate 55 south at Interstate 10;
  • U.S. 61 south at St. Charles Parish line;
  • U.S. 61 south at Kenner City (Jefferson Parish) line;
  • U.S. 61 south at Shrewsbury Road;
  • U.S. 11 at Little Irish Bayou;
  • Louisiana Highway 1 at Port Fourchon to Grand Isle;
  • River Road at the Orleans Parish line;
  • River Road at Dakin Ave.;
  • Parish Road at Judge Perez;
  • Parish Road to Murphy Oil Refinery (Hazardous material spill);

In Alabama, the only road that remains closed is Alabama Highway 44 east of U.S. 78, which was shut down due to a landslide. However, a number of roads in Mobile, Sumter, Choctaw, Marengo, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Clarke, Baldwin and Marion counties remain under advisories as debris cleanup and roadway repair continues.

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 carries on 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:

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