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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Crescent City Connection Bridges
Business US-90 Mississippi River Crossing At New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana

Crescent City Connection Bridge

Southbound Span
• Structure ID: NBI: 023602830802441.
• Daily Traffic Count: 64,612 (2003).
• Width: 52 Feet, 4 Lanes.
• Date Built: Opened April 1958.
   
Northbound Span
• Structure ID: NBI: 023602830802442.
• Daily Traffic Count: 64,612 (2003).
• Width: 92 Feet, 6 Lanes.
• Date Built: Opened September 1988.
   
Statistics Common To Both Bridges
• Location: River Mile 95.3.
• River Elevation: 0 Feet (Sea Level).
• Highway: Business US-90, Unmarked I-910, Future I-49.
• Bridge Type: Continuous Steel Truss Through Deck.
• Length: 13,428 Feet Overall, 1,575 Foot Longest Span.
• Navigation Channel Width: 750 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 170 Feet.
The Crescent City Connection Bridges are actually two different bridges built 29 years apart. The southbound span was built first, and the northbound span was added three decades later just downstream of the older structure. While the two spans are the same length, and look similar, closer inspection shows significant differences. Some of these differences include the new span being wider, T shaped piers on the newer span, a truss deck section on the older span, and more welding (in place of bolting) on the newer span. The older span was the longest continuous truss bridge in the world when it opened. The 3,019 foot long truss superstructure and 1,575 foot long main span still rate as some of largest continuous truss bridges on the planet.

The older bridge span was named the Greater New Orleans Bridge when built. The newer bridge span was initially called the Greater New Orleans Bridge #2. The Louisiana DOT held a contest to name the bridges. The Louisiana state legislature officially adopted the Crescent City Connection name in 1989. The bridge name refers to the crescent shaped curve in the Mississippi River as it flows past the heart of central New Orleans.

The bridges are currently configured with 4 lanes in each direction, plus 2 HOV lanes. The older span has 4 lanes heading southbound out of New Orleans. The newer span has 4 lanes heading northbound into New Orleans, plus 2 reversible HOV lanes. The northbound span has a toll of one dollar for a standard automobile, less for those with electronic toll tags. This is one of only two toll bridges remaining on the Mississippi River. These are the last bridges over the Mississippi River when heading south. The remaining four river crossings below these bridges are ferry boats.

This bridge complex is to be part of what Louisiana is calling I-49, an extension of the existing I-49 that is planned to loop through lower Louisiana and back into New Orleans from the south. Louisiana has been signing sections of this road as Future I-49. The state petitioned AASHTO to use the I-49 designation on the bridges and a freeway section south of New Orleans. AASHTO refused that request, but offered I-910 to be used until I-49 is completed. So far, I-910 signs have not been erected. The road is officially designated Business US-90.

A dark chapter for the Crescent City Connection bridges happened during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson blocked the south end of these bridges to prevent the thirsty, starving, and dying people of New Orleans from sharing the stockpiles of supplies that were located in Gretna. Chief Lawson even fired machines guns at the crowd and turned dogs loose on people who had no food or water for days. Nearly 2,000 people died in the disaster, many less than 2,000 feet from safety. Since most of the citizens in distress were African-American, and Chief Lawson is white, many have accused Lawson of being a racist.

The photo above is looking north at the upriver face of the twin bridges as seen from the Gretna side of the river. The people camping on the left side of the photo were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The photo below is a view looking west towards downtown New Orleans. Due to the river making a sweeping turn in this area, we are on the west bank of the river, but that happens to be the east end of the bridge at this location due to the water flowing the north. The river makes a sharp turn just north of this location and heads south again.


Crescent City Connection Bridge
Crescent City Connection Bridge
These two photos are views crossing the Mississippi River on the older southbound bridge structure. The photo above is entering Business US-90 heading towards the east bridge portal. The photo below is heading downhill on the approach spans toward Gretna, Louisiana. The highway is marked for four southbound traffic lanes. The refinery in the background is the large Exxon Chalmette refinery and the Murphy Oil refinery in Meraux.

Crescent City Connection Bridge
Crescent City Connection Bridge
The photo above is the upriver face of the older southbound bridge structure as seen from under the southwest corner of the bridge near the intersection of Magellan Street and Franklin Avenue. The photo above is the downstream face of the older southbound bridge structure. The vantage point is near the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Mardi Gras Blvd. The convention center and central business district is on the far side of the Mississippi River.

Crescent City Connection Bridge
Crescent City Connection Bridge
The photo above is looking northwest towards the upstream face of the bridges from the Fischer neighborhood near the intersection of Madison Street and Magellan Street. The river is on the far side of the railroad tracks. The photo below is looking southwest at the downstream face of the bridges from the McDonough neighborhood.

Crescent City Connection Bridge
Crescent City Connection Bridge
The photo above is approaching the toll booth on the south side of the Mississippi River. Tolls are only collected when traveling northbound into New Orleans. The photo above is a view traveling northbound towards the truss structure of the newer of the two bridge spans. The northbound span is marked for 4 general purpose northbound lanes, plus 2 reversible HOV lanes on the west side of the bridge deck.

Crescent City Connection Bridge

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