Little Bits of History

Longest Bridge in the World

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 10, 2011

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

May 10, 1969: The longest bridge in the world opens. The bridge had opened with two lanes, now used as the southbound lanes, in August of 1956. This day saw the opening of the northbound lanes making the bridge crossing Lake Pontchartrain more accessible to traffic. The bridge is 23.887 miles long and is located between Metairie and Manderville, Louisiana. It is maintained by the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission. There is a $3 toll collected on the North Shore for southbound traffic only.

The original causeway is 23.86 miles long and cost $30.7 million to build. The newer causeway was built at a cost of $26 million and is 0.021 miles longer. To ease congestion, in 1999, it was decided to double the toll at the southbound end and stop collecting a toll at the northbound end. This means a toll is collected while heading toward New Orleans, but getting out of the city is quicker. Hurricane Katrina caused some damage to the bridge, but mostly at an unused turnaround on the southbound or older bridge.

Lake Pontchartrain is an estuary and is the second largest inland saltwater body of water in the US. The Great Salt Lake is larger. Pontchartrain has a surface area of 630 square miles to Salt Lake’s 1,700 square miles. Pontchartrain is not a true lake, but is connected to the Gulf of Mexico via the Rigolets Straits and Chef Menteur Pass into Lake Borgne (another lagoon). Pontchartrain experiences some tidal activity. Pontchartrain was created about 2,600 to 4,000 years ago as the Mississippi River Delta deposited material on the southern and eastern shorelines.

The bridge is no longer the longest bridge in the world, of course. That title goes to the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge located in China. That bridge is a high speed railway bridge and is 102.401 miles long. The next two longest bridges are also in China and also high speed rail bridges while the fourth longest bridge is in Thailand. The Bang Na Expressway is 33.554 miles and is for cars. The next two longest bridges again are in China, one is the longest bridge over water – the Qingdoa Haiwan Bridge and is 26.408 miles long and used for cars. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is next and is the longest bridge in the Western World, and is also over water. All of the six longest bridges were all built in the 21st century.

“A politician is a man who will double cross that bridge when he comes to it.” – Oscar Levant

“But which is the stone that supports the bridge?” – Kublai Khan

“Doing the show was like painting the George Washington Bridge. As soon as you finished one end, you started right in on the other.” – Jack Paar

“George is a radio announcer, and when he walks under a bridge… you can’t hear him talk.” – Steven Wright

Also on this day:

I Think I Can – In 1869 the First US Transcontinental Railroad is completed.

Before Hillary – In 1872, Victoria Woodhull was nominated to run for the US Presidency.

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