Happy birthday! Horace Wilkinson Bridge celebrates 50 years in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE - The 'New Bridge' doesn't really seem so new anymore. Built 50 years ago today, the Horace Wilkinson Bridge still holds the title as the highest bridge over the Mississippi River.
The bridge was named after three separate Horace Wilkinsons who served a total of 54 years on the Louisiana legislature.
Using six lanes of I-10 to connect Port Allen in West Baton Rouge to the Capital City, the bridge made its debut on April 10, 1968. Fifty years ago, this superstructure changed the way of life for Baton Rouge: the Huey P. Long Bridge, better known as the 'Old Bridge,' only carried four lanes of U.S. 190 over the river.
But a growing Capital quickly transformed the bridge into a stretch of roadway notorious for its predictable back-ups and headaches, which ultimately stem from the I-10/I-110 junction.
However, a new tax plan could eventually pay for a third bridge across the Mississippi, pending approval by the legislature later this year.
According to a state-funded Interstate 10 corridor study, a proposed third bridge is one of three mega-projects needed to ease congestion in the capital region. The other two are a widened interstate through Baton Rouge, and a loop around the city.
For now, happy birthday Horace: the bridge we all love to hate.