Doug Mouton / Northshore Bureau Chief
SLIDELL, La. - The rebuilt Twin Span Bridge on I-10 will open in early September, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
That completion date is months ahead of mid-2012 projections. "We're very excited because this is an unprecedented project," Louisiana DOTD spokesperson Bambi Hall said Wednesday. "It's one of the largest public works projects in Louisiana history."
The cost of the new 11-mile bridge connecting Slidell with New Orleans East is $803 million.
It was paid for with federal money after the bridge was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Construction delays caused headaches for cross country truckers, especially in the first two years after Katrina.
"There for awhile it was pretty difficult to get to New Orleans," said Wichita, Kansas trucker Roland Mogle. "There was quite a bit of backup."
Eyewitness News talked to truckers outside the Slidell Travel Center along I-10.
Several described crossing the Twin Span as the most unpleasant part of their day.
"It gets pretty hectic on there," Visalia, California trucker Steve Frisby said.
"Very unpleasant," trucker Alan Paige of Auburndale, Florida added. "You lose about an hour or two hours of drive time."
The new Twin Span will be six lanes instead of four, and it stands 21 feet higher off Lake Pontchartrain than the old Twin Span Bridge.
Truckers greeted the news about the opening of the rebuilt bridge with smiles.
"That's great news," Roland Mogle said. "It couldn't be better news for the industry, news for traffic."
"In reality," Alan Paige added, "you're going to pick up a half of a day in driving."
Boh Bros, the construction company building the Twin Span, already received a $1.65 million bonus for reaching construction benchmarks early.
St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis is moving forward with his plan to use part of the old Twin Span Bridge for a public fishing pier in Slidell.