Its name isn't exactly accurate anymore, but half of the structure formerly known as the Twinspan Bridge in New Orleans has reopened to traffic.
On Friday, Oct. 14, traffic was opened in both directions on the eastbound section of the bridge, 28 days after being destroyed by tidal surge from Hurricane Katrina. The 5.4-mile-long westbound bridge, which is scheduled to be finished by Jan. 14, 2006, is about 25 percent completed, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Once the westbound span is reopened, interstate traffic will be restored to its pre-Katrina configuration.
"This is a magnificent milestone," said Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who appeared at the bridge with U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta for the reopening. "Seven weeks ago, we would never have thought that we would have to be reopening this span that has connected our worlds so profoundly. We lost the momentum of our lives."
The Twinspan Bridge, which spans Lake Pontchartrain between New Orleans and Slidell, is a major roadway for truckers in the region. To accommodate two-way traffic on the newly repaired bridge, a traffic crossover was constructed in Slidell to allow I-10 westbound traffic to move onto one lane of the repaired span, and a second crossover on the New Orleans side of the bridge will allow those westbound drivers to transfer back to the regular westbound interstate lanes.
"Even though it's just two-way traffic for now, we hope opening this span will help drivers move a little faster," Louisiana DOTD Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry said in a press release. The DOT plans to take bids in Spring of 2006 for a permanent replacement bridge.
Work began on the Interstate 10 Twinspan Bridge on Monday, Sept. 12. The work was contracted to New Orleans-based Boh Bros. Construction Co. Under the $30.9 million contract, the bridges have to be finished within 45 days, and include a $50,000-per-day incentive to finish the work ahead of schedule.
For each day the project runs late on the westbound bridge, Boh Bros. faces a penalty of $75,000, the Times-Picayune reported.