May 13, 2024 - News

The Crescent City Connection is getting a literal glow-up: What drivers need to know

The New Orleans city skyline is viewed from beneath the twin span of the Crescent City Connection at dusk. Lights are seen along the bridge.

You think this looks cool, but just wait 'til the lights are multi-colored and dimmable. Photo: Köhn/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Construction on the Crescent City Connection's lighting update is now underway, with 24/7 lane closures expected across both bridges through mid-August, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says.

Why it matters: If you already hated driving over the CCC, it'll be even worse for most of the summer.

Fun fact: Once the project is complete, the CCC will have a lot more razzle-dazzle.

  • The new lights will be programmable, dimmable and multicolored, just like the recent Caesars Superdome lighting upgrade, so DOTD can really jazz it up.

The fine print: For now, DOTD has closed the Tchoupitoulas Street onramp for West Bank-bound drivers and the far right lanes as you approach and drive beneath the overhead bridge beams in both directions.

  • In July, that'll switch around, and DOTD will close the left-most lanes for drivers in both directions and reopen the West Bank-bound Tchoupitoulas onramp.
  • That's expected to last through the middle of August, but construction will continue on the lights through early 2025.

Catch up quick: The bridges were first lit up in 1987, a decorative project gifted by the Young Leadership Council.

  • The lights were maintained with funds from bridge tolls between 1989 and 2012, according to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
  • By the time an electrical surge from Hurricane Ida hit in 2021, DOTD says, the lighting system was outdated enough that a total overhaul was necessary to get things going again.

Follow the money: The $20.7 million project is being paid for by the state, though the city was originally on the hook for half that, a DOTD spokesman tells Axios New Orleans.

  • Instead, the state took on payment for the bridge lighting project in exchange for New Orleans taking over ownership of a stretch of Hayne Boulevard in a road transfer credit, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune reports.

Between the lines: The state was motivated to make that trade as it looks to offload some of its public road ownership, the paper says.

  • The state owns more than a quarter of Louisiana's roads, but the national average is less than a fifth.

Zoom in: The lighting project was designed by Modjeski and Masters, the same Pennsylvania firm that originally designed the Crescent City Connection and the Huey P. Long bridge.

  • The original project advertisement didn't give the OK for continuous lane closures — and it didn't get any contractors interested in it as a result, DOTD says.
  • By ceding that point, the project moved forward with Frischhertz Electric Co. constructing.

The bottom line: Traffic is going to be pretty gnarly for awhile, but beauty is pain.

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