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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Huey P. Long Bridge
US-190 Mississippi River Crossing At Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Huey P. Long Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI: 611700071000001
• Location: River Mile 233.9.
• River Elevation: 10 Feet.
• Highway: US-190 (Once Proposed As I-410).
• Railroad: Kansas City Southern.
• Daily Traffic Count: 17,300 (2003).
• Daily Traffic Count: 5 Trains Per Day (Estimated).
• Bridge Type: Continuous Steel Truss Through Deck.
• Length: 5,879 Feet.
• Width: 4 Traffic Lanes, 2 On Each Side Of Railroad Track.
• Navigation Channel Width: Channels Of 748 Feet, 623 Feet, and 443 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 113 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened August 1940.
There are two different Huey P. Long Bridges over the Mississippi River in Louisiana. The first carries US-90 over the great river in New Orleans. The other Huey P. Long Bridge carries US-190 over the river here in Baton Rouge. The two Long Bridges are configured very similar to each other with the long railroad trestles on either end of the bridge, and the scary narrow traffic lanes hung off of the sides of the superstructure. These lanes were even narrower prior to the mid-1990s when 4 feet was added to each side of the bridge.

It is hard to grasp how large this structure is. It is also hard to find any kind of vantage point to take it all in given the trees, the levees, and the chemical plants on either side of the river. The main truss superstructure is around 3,300 feet long. The highway approaches are 1,650 feet on the west end of the bridge, and 870 feet on the east side of the structure. The total length of the highway approaches and main truss closely matches the published length of the bridge at 5,879 feet. The railroad trestle is around 3,650 feet on the east end of the river crossing, and nearly 5,300 feet long on the west side of the river. This gives a total elevated length of about 12,250 for trains, which is 2-1/4 miles.

The truss superstructure has an interesting color. It is not one of the standard silver, gray, or black bridge colors. The bridge was originally painted blue. But dust from an aluminum plant kept coating the bridge with orange aluminum-oxide dust. The Louisiana DOT eventually gave up trying to keep the bridge blue and painted the structure orange to match the dust.

The Long bridge marks the spot where ocean-going ships can no longer travel up the Mississippi River. The navigation channel is at least 49 feet deep below the Long bridge, and often deeper than 200 feet. That is unique for a major river. While most rivers get wider, the Mississippi stays about the same width, but gets deeper. There are places in the Mississippi where the river bottom is below sea level as far inland as the border with the state of Mississippi. Above the Long bridge, the river channel is maintained at 12 feet, where it eventually drops to a 9 foot navigation channel that is maintained all the way to the Port of Minneapolis in Minnesota. The US Army Corps of Engineers would prefer to have the deep water channel extend further upriver, but a rock shelf on the river bottom just north of Baton Rouge makes it impossible to dredge the river channel.

The photo above is the upriver face of the US-190 Huey P. Long Bridge looking southeast from the west bank of the Mississippi River. The photo below is looking west from the south side of the bridge near the Louisiana Highway LA-1 underpass. The railroad trestle extends nearly a mile to the west before touching down on dry land.


Huey P. Long Bridge
Huey P. Long Bridge
The photo above is the south face of the bridge approaches on the west end of the structure as they pass over Louisiana Highway LA-1. The photo below is looking east from under the approach spans where highway LA-1 passes under the Huey P. Long Bridge.

Huey P. Long Bridge
Huey P. Long Bridge
The photo above is an overview of the bridge as seen from a farm field located southwest of the bridge. The railroad deck is nearly level while the highway approaches climb a relatively steep grade to reach the truss superstructure. The photo below is a view looking east from the southwest corner of the bridge as the highway decks converge with the railroad tracks at the west end of the truss superstructure.

Huey P. Long Bridge
Huey P. Long Bridge
These two photos are the first of a 7 photo set showing a typical river crossing on the Huey P. Long Bridge heading eastbound into Baton Rouge. The photo above is just entering the approach spans at the west end of the bridge. The railroad tracks are high overhead. The photo below is climbing the incline on the west end of the bridge heading towards the truss superstructure. Both lanes on this side of the railroad deck travel eastbound.

Huey P. Long Bridge
Huey P. Long Bridge
These two photos are views traveling eastbound across the river spans next to the truss superstructure. The photo above is near the west end of the truss, while the photo below is near the middle of the Mississippi River. Despite the lanes having been widened, the bridge still feels narrow and has no shoulders for breakdowns.

Huey P. Long Bridge
Huey P. Long Bridge
These two photos are views from the approach spans on the east side of the river crossing after having passed through the main truss superstructure of the Huey P. Long Bridge. The photo above is just after having exited the truss portal. An eastbound train is also crossing the bridge, but we have not caught up with the tail end of the train yet. The photo below is on the downhill exiting the bridge. The railroad deck has a much smaller slope than the highway.

Huey P. Long Bridge
Huey P. Long Bridge
The photo above is the final photo of a 7 photo set showing a typical river crossing on the Huey P. Long Bridge heading eastbound into Baton Rouge. In this photo, traffic is back on dry land, but the railroad bridge remains elevated for another 1,200 feet until it curves to the south of US-190 and lands on an earthen embankment. The photo below is a view looking northwest at the Long Bridge from the parking lot of a petrochemical factor located south of the structure on the east riverbank.

Huey P. Long Bridge

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