The John James Audubon Bridge is a new Mississippi River crossing between Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana parishes in south central Louisiana. The bridge had been proposed to be the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America and replace an existing ferry crossing between the communities of New Roads and St. Francisville, Louisiana. Total cost of the project had been estimated to be $408 million.
The project was part of the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) program which was created by Act 16 of the 1989 Louisiana Legislature and was approved by a vote of the people. This program is the single largest transportation program in state history and was funded by a four cent gasoline tax.
In 2002 the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) wanted to accelerate the TIMED program and hired a consultant to assist in management of the program. Louisiana Timed Managers, a joint venture of G.E.C., Inc.; The LPA Group, Inc.; and Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc., were selected to manage the program.
The John James Audubon Bridge project was the first Design/Build project in the State of Louisiana and the successful proposer to construct the project was Audubon Bridge Constructors Joint Venture composed of Flatiron Constructors, Inc.; Granite Construction Company and Parsons Transportation Group, Inc. with an estimated cost of $347,856,245 for design and construction of the bridge. LADOTD already had a preliminary concept and had purchased the right-of-way for this project.
The project consisted of 12 miles of roadway, the main bridge crossing the Mississippi River, six small bridges and a railroad overpass. The Mississippi River Bridge is a four-lane bridge with eight-foot outside shoulders and two-foot inside shoulders. The 12 miles of roadway and smaller structures will consist of two travel lanes with provision made to widen to four travel lanes at some time in the future.
Construction progressed well and the last two cable stays of the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America were installed on January 3, 2011, at which point all 136 cable stays were in place. Each cable stay is anchored to a 500-foot tower, which provides support to the bridge deck. Each stay contains 20 to 69 individual cables for a total of 4,548 cables. If all the cables were placed end to end, they would stretch approximately 1,200 miles. Each stay is protected by an orange sheath, which has spiral bead extending its length to resist rain and wind vibration.
High water on the Mississippi River caused the closure of the New Roads to St. Francisville ferry and LADOTD opened the John James Audubon Bridge to vehicular traffic at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 5, 2011.