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The Bridge Watch:  " News " La. plans to begin acquiring Miss. bridge rights of way

Morning Advocate March 21, 2004

Baker-Zachary bureau

State highway officials hope to begin acquiring rights of way later this year for approaches to a proposed bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana parishes.

An environmental report on the span is about 98 percent complete, a state bridge engineer told members of the Zachary Taylor Parkway Commission and its affiliated Parkway Association at a recent meeting.

The state Department of Transportation and Development also hopes to get a Coast Guard navigation permit this year and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to mitigate damages to wetlands in the area, DOTD engineer Paul Fossier said.

Fossier, the assistant state bridge design engineer, told the parkway groups that the main bridge span, approach bridges and related roadway will cost about $200 million and should be completed in late 2010 or late 2011.

"We'll be finishing the preliminary plans in the next month or two," Fossier said.

The preliminary design work established the exact location for the bridge and includes plans for the roadways.

The final design phase, which may begin this summer, will focus on the bridge's superstructure, Fossier said.

DOTD also released a preliminary computer rendering of the bridge, showing its proposed cable-stayed design -- similar to the Luling bridge -- and its location relative to one of two power plants in the area.

Cable-stayed bridges, like suspension bridges, use cables to support the bridge and roadway load.

The cables on suspension bridges pass over towers and transmit the load to onshore anchors, while the cables on cable-stayed bridges are attached to towers that bear the load alone.

Except for the Luling bridge, the other Mississippi River bridges in Louisiana are cantilever-truss spans.

The bridge will connect with U.S. 61 in the Starhill area of West Feliciana Parish, south of La. 10 and St. Francisville.

The west end will connect to La. 1-La. 10 at New Roads.

The bridge's main span will have four 12-foot wide lanes, with two 10-foot wide outside shoulders and two 6-foot wide inside shoulders, Fossier said.

The cable-stay main span and anchor spans will be a minimum of 2,700 feet long, followed by 3,000 feet of approaches on the Pointe Coupee side and about 7,300 feet of bridge approaches on the West Feliciana side.

To keep the project within the budget, the bridge approaches will be two lanes but rights of way will be obtained for their eventual widening to four lanes, Fossier said.

Fossier said the preliminary rendering of the bridge is subject to change because some details, such as the shape and location of the towers, may be altered as the final plans are prepared.

Wind-tunnel tests on the proposed design will be done later this year, he added.

Fossier also gave the bridge supporters estimated bid-letting dates for the various phases of construction:

July 2006, the main bridge substructure.

June 2007, bridge approaches and connecting roadways.

June 2008, main bridge superstructure.

The dates are subject to change, he added.

The bridge is the centerpiece for the proposed four-lane parkway, which would pass through eight Louisiana parishes and link Alexandria on the west to Poplarville, Miss., on the east.

The bridge would replace the ferry that operates between St. Francisville and New Roads.

The bridge also is one of 16 Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development projects approved by the voters in 1989.

West Feliciana Citizens BridgeWatch