“Fifty years ago, on the heels of the highway interstate system, Louisiana opened traffic to the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge,” said DOTD Chief Engineer Chad Winchester. “The construction of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge is a testimony of the resiliency, pride, and determination that can inspire Louisiana to even greater accomplishments.”
The bridge was built by the Louisiana Bridge Company, a joint venture between Brown and Root, Inc. of Houston, Texas, at the time, and the former T.L. James Company of Ruston, Louisiana.
Although it stands today as a well-known Louisiana landmark, constructing the bridge was no small feat. Due to the remoteness of the structure, construction canals totaling approximately 40 miles were required to service the project. Building this infrastructure facility also required approximately 174 miles of piling and 170 miles of pre-stressed concrete girders, including steel pilings and pre-stressed concrete piles.
Over the years, the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge has aided in improving the quality of life for Louisianans by enhancing mobility and facilitating economic development opportunities. Today, the 18-mile parallel bridges carry approximately 60,000 vehicles per day across the Atchafalaya River.
“For many of us, the Basin Bridge is not just a bridge," Winchester said. "It’s access to family, friends, jobs, health care, sporting events, and many other instances. Our lives are richer because of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. Not just because of what it is, but because of its contributions to this area, the people, and the great state of Louisiana."
In March 1973, the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge was opened to the public. The press conference was held in conjunction with Atchafalaya National Heritage Month.