The phase involving the widening of the main bridge of the $1.2 billion Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project is being hailed as the most visually exciting in the project’s seven-year course, and a rare technical feat.
On June 19, a massive bridge segment was the first of three to be lifted in place using multiple barges and strand jacks. The four-span bridge, which serves as one of the three major Mississippi River crossings in the New Orleans metro area, kicked off its truss widening in November 2009 with Span 1.
On the remaining three spans, the span-by-span construction method is being used. This involves preassembled span sections bigger than the size of a football field to be hoisted into position using strand jacks.
The first “Big Lift” – as is being referred to by the contractor – was performed June 19 - 20, and required a 48-hour road closure, in addition to a period of restricted railroad and river traffic.
Due to the size and weight of the span segments, the intended lifts are very rare, especially in bridge work.
The contractor responsible for the Big Lift and Phase III was MTI – a joint venture of Massman Construction Co., Traylor Brothers Inc. and IHI Inc. When completed, the widen truss will allow the narrow bridge to have three 11-foot lanes, along with new inside and outside shoulders in each direction.
Sherri LeBas, secretary of the La., Department of Transportation and Development, says, “From a technical achievement perspective, the segment lift is an exciting milestone for this bridge project, because of its magnitude and because it represents another step toward completion of this much-needed project for the residents and businesses in Jefferson Parish and the New Orleans area.”