Symposium focuses on Huey P. Long Bridge

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Huey P. Long Bridge over the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish will be the focus of a free, day-long symposium Thursday at the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans.

Panels will discuss the bridge’s history, the $1.2 billion project to widen the bridge, and Gov. Huey P. Long’s influence on construction and the challenges to getting it built in the early 1930s.

The bridge opened in 1935 as two lanes without shoulders on either side of a railroad bridge.

The 9-foot lanes prompted some later drivers to dub the bridge the Huey P. Narrow, a name that will no longer apply: the bridge is being widened to three 11-foot lanes in each direction, with shoulders.

The state Department of Transportation and Development said the project, which will more than double the driving surface from 18 to 43 feet wide, is scheduled for completion June 16.

The symposium audience will be able to see artifacts and items of interest from the bridge at the symposium and to ask questions of all speakers. Panelists include engineer William Conway, bridge researcher Miles Bingham, and Leon Miller, curator of the Huey P. Long Papers at Tulane University.

The symposium is being hosted by the Louisiana State Museum, the transportation department and the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad. It is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and managers of a $4.6 billion roads program paid for by a tax of 4 cents a gallon on gasoline.

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