WATSON — Workers have completed the new Magnolia Bridge project doing away with a traffic bottleneck between East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes, state officials said Thursday.
The $19.9 million project replaces the two-lane La. 64 bridge over the Amite River with a four-lane bridge.
Magnolia Bridge is the major link between the northern parts of East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes.
Gov. Bobby Jindal described the bridge as a “critical route” for residents of the parishes.
The wider bridge will speed up commutes, improve safety and help attract business, he said Thursday.
It will stimulate development along La. 16 in Livingston Parish and provide an alternate truck route between Livingston Parish and Baton Rouge, Jindal said
Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks said the bridge will keep commuters from being “stuck in traffic” on a daily basis.
He estimated it will cut 20 to 25 minutes off the driving time between parishes.
The new bridge will be a big help for people traveling between Greenwell Springs Road and either Watson or Walker, he said.
Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin said he thinks the new bridge will help to reduce traffic in his city by giving people in the northern part of Livingston Parish an improved route to Baton Rouge.
Combined with the widening of Interstate 12, the new Magnolia Bridge will spur economic development in Livingston Parish, Ricks said.
The project replaces a two-lane bridge that has long been a choke point for traffic, particularly during rush hours, said Jodi Conachen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation and Development.
More than 25,000 drivers use the route daily, she said.
The project also widened La. 64 from La. 1019 to Greenwell Springs Road. In addition to the 2,550-foot bridge, the project included a 1,253-foot approach on the west side of the bridge and a 1,722-foot approach on the east side of the bridge, according to state highway officials.
The new bridge has lanes 12 feet wide in each direction and shoulders 10 feet wide, highway officials said.