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Louisiana DOTD and State, Local Officials Break Ground on Start of Leo Kerner Moveable Bridge Replacement Project

LAFITTE, LA — Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., along with state and local officials, participated in a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the first phase of a permanent replacement for the Leo Kerner Swing Bridge.

The LA 302/Bayou Barataria Moveable Bridge Replacement Project is multi-phased to allow for a quicker start time for the construction of the bridge itself, which is included in phase 1 at a cost of $55.9 million. The bridge, being constructed by Boh Bros., is estimated to be completed in 2028. Features of the new bridge include a 20-foot vertical clearance in the closed position, a hybrid driven swing system, and a natural gas powered generator to operate the bridge after a storm.

“Certain infrastructure is referred to as critical, but in this case we have a single crossing to connect Louisiana residents to their schools, jobs, businesses, and emergency services, while at the same time allow safe, easy marine passage,” Wilson said. “We have been fortunate to be able to rely on a bridge that stood the test of time, but new infrastructure is needed to ensure the thriving of future coastal generations. This historic day is made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and we will continue to see increased improvement to our state’s infrastructure because of the increase in funding.”

Louisiana is set to receive approximately $1 billion over the course of five years through the Bridge Formula Program administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“The citizens of Barataria and Lafitte have waited a long time for this day, and I could not be happier for them,” said State Senator Patrick Connick. “Once completed, this new bridge will be safe, reliable, and finally bring peace of mind to the residents of Barataria who must cross the bayou on a daily basis.”

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The second phase of the project, which will include raising, and eventual reconstruction, of a .6 mile stretch of LA 45 from the new bridge to the levee protected portion of Jean Lafitte, is scheduled to be let in December.

"After decades of working towards and fighting for the Kerner Bridge replacement, we are finally breaking ground,” said State Representative Timothy P. Kerner. “It is a monumental day for the people of Barataria and Lafitte who have suffered so much. This is a giant step forward towards resiliency and a massive quality of life improvement."

The completion of the project will also see marine traffic return to Bayou Barataria, where it was halted after the installation of a temporary modular steel span bridge after Hurricane Ida. The temporary bridge, a pre-fabricated design by Acrow Corp. out of New Jersey, was part of an emergency response to reconnect Barataria residents to the mainland after Hurricane Ida.

"Today is a historic day for the people of Barataria and Lafitte and yet another signal that we are building back stronger, bigger, and better,” said Jean Lafitte Mayor Timothy Kerner, Jr. “Representative Kerner has fought for this bridge — that is so vital to our area — for decades and without his work, we wouldn't be breaking ground today. Our deepest gratitude to Governor Edwards and Secretary Wilson for their commitment to our area's resiliency and progress."

The Leo Kerner bridge, constructed in 1948, provided a critical connection between Barataria and the town of Jean Lafitte for over 70 years, but was taken out of service in 2021 after significant damage from a loose vessel collision occurred during Hurricane Ida in 2021.

Four deconstructed pieces of the bridge currently sit adjacent to town hall in Jean Lafitte. There are plans to convert it into a fishing pier, where it can continue to be part of the town’s legacy.

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