US 190 bridge getting new facelift - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

US 190 bridge getting new facelift

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KNOE 8 News/AP) - The old Mississippi River Bridge, between Port Allen and Baton Rouge, which opened nearly three-quarters of a century ago, is undergoing renovations that will cost more than 10 times the original price tag.

Most of the roughly $100 million project involves putting a new coat of light gray paint on the structure, which was last painted in 1968.

Chris B. Guidry, assistant bridge design administrator for the state Department of Transportation and Development, says the project is supposed to be done by spring 2016.

"Our hope is that we can get another 50 years out of the structure," Guidry said. "If we hadn't done this project, we were probably looking at 20 years if we could keep it that long."

The painting of the main truss, which is what most motorists notice, should be finished by next summer, he said.

The state is paying for less than half of the upgrade, Guidry said.

The bridge opened for traffic on Aug. 4, 1940, at a cost of $8.4 million, replacing the ferries that travelers relied on for decades.

It includes two lanes on each side for cars and trucks, and a rail line in the center.

The structure, which connects East and West Baton Rouge parishes, is officially called the Huey P. Long Bridge.

However, it is usually called the U.S. 190 Bridge or the old Mississippi River Bridge in deference to the "new" bridge a few miles downriver, which opened in 1968.

Motorists prefer the new one by a long shot. Average daily traffic is 29,000 on the old one, compared with 86,000 vehicles on the new bridge.

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