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Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge – Landmark Dedication

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway was dedicated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark on November 8, 2013 by the New Orleans Branch of the Louisiana Section ASCE. It was approved by the H & H Committee at its September 2012 meeting. The committee member who presented the nomination gave a brief history of pile driving and then explained how the designer overcame various obstacles including:

…the poor soil conditions existing across the 20+ mile long lake and how all structures had to be supported by friction piles which up to that time had been of 24 inch square reinforced concrete. Maxwell Upson designed and patented a 54-inch diameter cylinder pile made up of 16 ft. long precast segments which were pre-stressed together by steel wires. In addition, Upson suggested that all of the pile caps be precast and the entire deck section be built as a single unit with pre-stressed concrete. A factory was set up to precast and pre-stress all of the elements which were standardized and then shipped to the bridge site on barges. The cylinder piles were positioned and driven, five piles to a bent and a precast pile cap was placed on the top of the piles and concreted into place at the design grade. The precast, pre-stressed deck section was placed on the pile caps and the process repeated and repeated in much the same way as Caesar’s bridge across the Rhine in 55 BC and the early wooden New England bridges built across the Charles River. It can be claimed that it was the first manufactured bridge using industrial plant methods. It addition, it was the longest bridge in America and is still the longest continuous bridge over water in the world. It is 23.8 -miles long from end to end and was opened in 1956, with a parallel span opening in 1969. The 1969 bridge was built on the same plan with the exception that the piers consisted of three cylinder piles. 


 Causeway under construction 1956
 Causeway under construction 1956

 

 Causeway-1956-1969
 Causeway 1956 (nearside) and 1969 (farside)

 

 Dedication Ceremony Poster
 Dedication Ceremony Poster

  

 Dedication Plaque
 Dedication Plaque

Two of the builders of the bridge, Henry LeMieux of the Raymond Concrete Pile Company and Peter Gitz of the Louisiana Bridge Company, were in attendance and commented on the dedication of their work as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Presentations were mauy by Sherri H. LeBas, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Thomas L. Jackson, Past President ASCE, Carlton Dufrechous, General Manager of the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission.

See pages 7-12 in the May 2013 issue of the Journal of the Louisiana Section for a nice writeup of the causeway by Miles Bingham of the Louisiana Section.