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Blake Pontchartrain: The Crescent City Connection 

When were the spans of the bridge built, and how much did the toll go up over the years?

click to enlarge Work has begun to remove the toll collection structures on the West Bank side of the Crescent City Connection.

Work has begun to remove the toll collection structures on the West Bank side of the Crescent City Connection.

Hey Blake,

When were the spans of the Crescent City Connection built and how much did the toll go up over the years? Also, how did people get to the West Bank before the bridge was built?

Jerry Slater

Dear Jerry,

  Your question is timely, since work began just last week to dismantle the Crescent City Connection toll plaza, signifying yet another chapter of the bridge's long history. The 12-lane toll plaza structure has not been used since a 2013 court decision and voter referendum ended tolls on the Crescent City Connection.

  Originally called the Greater New Orleans Bridge, the first span opened to traffic on April 15, 1958. Prior to that, drivers used the Huey P. Long Bridge (opened in 1935) or ferries to get across the Mississippi River to the West Bank.

  The Mississippi River Bridge Authority, chaired by Capt. Neville Levy, oversaw the bridge's opening, which followed three years of construction at a cost of $65 million. The bridge, which at the time was the longest cantilever bridge in the world, was dedicated Oct. 18, 1958.

  The original tolls ranged from 35 cents for cars to $1.75 for large trucks. The toll was reduced to 30 cents in 1962 and was eliminated in May 1964.

  Construction on the second span, which cost $500 million, began in 1981 and was completed in September 1988. A $1 toll was instituted soon after.

  The Times-Picayune and state Sen. Fritz Windhorst organized a contest to rename the bridges. The winner was Crescent City Connection, submitted by Gay Herbert's fourth-grade class at St. Clement of Rome School in Metairie. The name was changed in April 1989. A list of other finalists is below:

1. Crescent City Connection — submitted by Gay Herbert’s fourth-grade class at St. Clement of Rome School in Metairie

2. Greater New Orleans Superspan — Francis Wyant’s fifth-grade class at West Bank Cathedral Academy in Marrero

3. Riverview Bridge — Sharon Illg’s first-grade class at John James Audubon Elementary School in Kenner

4. Delta Twins — Rhonda Meyers’ third-grade class at Lynn Oaks School in Braithwaite

5. Crescent Bend Bridge — Annette Landry’s fifth-grade class at St. Louis King of France Catholic School in Metairie

6. Creole Crossing — Diane Rabalais’ fourth-grade class at Carolyn Park Elementary School in Arabi

7. The Pelican Pride — Lucy Causey’s sixth-grade class at John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge

8. Jazz Gate Bridge — Fran Whitely’s first-grade class at St. John Lutheran School

9. Big Easy Twin Spans — Deborah Oppenheim’s third-grader class at McDonogh 39 Elementary School

10. Crescent City Twin Span — Donna Vorenkamp’s third-grade class at Gretna Park Ele-mentary School (now Shirley T. Johnson/Gretna Park Elementary School) in Gretna

11. Crescent City Twins — Barbara Lagnion’s sixth-grade class at St. Rita Catholic School

12. Greater New Orleans Twin Bridges — Jacqueline Boudreaux’s fifth-grade class at Estelle Elementary in Marrero

13. New Orleans Metro Span — Judith Jastal’s fourth-grade class at The Rosenwald School in Algiers

14. The Friendship Connection — Catherine Michon’s first-grade class at St. Benilde School in Metairie

15. Mardi Gras Gateway — Janet Naquin’s third-grade class at Ella Dolhonde Elementary School in Metairie

16. Fleur-de-Lis — Johnny Johnson’s sixth-grade class at Holy Name of Jesus School

17. The Pelican Bridge — Ann Legaux’s sixth-grade class at Fannie C. Williams School

18. Jazz City Bridge — Nell Slawson’s fourth-grade class at Lakewood Elementary School in Luling

19. Crescent City Bridge — Ola Smith’s sixth-grade class at Henderson Elementary School in Algiers

20. Unity — Lula Huling’s first-grade class at Robert Russa Moton Elementary

21. The Big Easy and The Li’l Easy — Judith Malouse’s second-grade class at Our Lady Star of the Sea School

22. Mississippi River Twins — Patricia Ikerd’s fifth-grade class at Sebastien Roy School in St. Bernard

23. Greater Mississippi River Bridge — Fran Conner’s sixth-grade class at Chalmette Middle School in Chalmette

24. Crescent City Gateway — Max Brown’s sixth-grade class at Rosenwald School in Algiers

25. Crescent City River Bridge — Janice Thompson’s second-grade class at Rosenwald School in Algiers.

Correction: In my June 7 column, I misstated the location of the old Pelican Lanes bowling alley. It was at 105 Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Metairie (location of Heritage Plaza). Paradise Lanes was down the street where Barnes & Noble currently operates.


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