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In The News
Jul/Aug 2011 Issue

Soaring, sublime Audubon Bridge opens in Louisiana

It’s fitting that the new Mississippi River bridge in south-central Louisiana is named after naturalist John James Audubon who painted the birds of America because the spectacular bridge soars to new heights.

The $409 million bridge, which opened in May after five years of construction, is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere with a span of 1,583 feet. Connecting New Roads in Point Coupee parish and St. Francisville in West Feliciana parish, the bridge also links U.S. Highway 61 and Louisiana Highway 1. It is the only traffic-crossing point on the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, La., and Natchez, Miss.

The stunning structure has 136 stay cables that are anchored to two 520-foot towers, providing support for the bridge deck. Each stay cable contains 20 to 69 individual cables encased in an orange sheath for a total of 4,548 cables. If the cables were unwrapped and the individual wires that make them up were placed end-to-end, they would stretch from Baton Rouge to Alaska.

The bridge opened about a month early because high river levels forced the closure of a nearby ferry, so drivers may encounter lane closures as construction is finalized.

Be vigilant to prevent heat-stroke deaths among young passengers

With the hottest days of summer approaching, the National High-way Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds parents that it’s highly dangerous to leave children alone in cars.

NHTSA research shows the risk of serious injury or death during hot weather is heightened for children left alone in vehicles. Hyperthermia, or heat-stroke, is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle deaths for children under 14. NHTSA has found at least 27 documented deaths per year.

Never leave infants or children unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are partly open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on. Cases of hyperthermia often occur because parents are hurried and forget they have a child in the car. To help prevent such tragedies, NHTSA advises them to:

  • Ask your childcare center to call you if your child doesn’t arrive on time;
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle–front and back–before locking the door and walking away;
  • Write yourself a note and place it where you’ll see it when you leave the car;
  • Place your purse, briefcase or something else you’re sure to need in the back seat so you’ll see a child left in the vehicle;
  • Keep an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. Once the child is buckled in, place the object where you will notice it when you leave the vehicle.


The stunning bridge just before it opened in early May. The towers are 520 feet tall.

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