LAFITTE, La. (WGNO)— The Department of Transportation and Development and Jefferson Parish officials broke ground on phase one of the project to permanently replace the Leo Kerner Swing Bridge.

The project will be completed in multiple phases, allowing for an earlier start date for construction on the bridge. Phase one of the LA 302/Bayou Barataria Moveable Bridge Replacement Project, has an estimated cost of $55.9 million.

The constructor, Boh Bros., says the project has an estimated date of completion in 2028, weather permitting.

The Leo Kerner Swing Bridge, first built in 1948, provided a connection between Barataria and Jean Lafitte for over 70 years until 2021 when a loose vessel collided with it during Hurricane Ida. A temporary bridge was erected as an emergency response to reconnect Barataria residents to the mainland.

“Today is a historic day for the people of Barataria and Lafitte and yet another signal that we are building back stronger, bigger, and better,” said Jean Lafitte Mayor Timothy Kerner, Jr.

The new features of the bridge will include:

  • A 20-foot vertical clearance in the closed position
  • A hybrid-driven swing system
  • A natural gas-powered generator to operate the bridge after a storm

Phase two of the project, slated to begin in December, will consist of the raising and eventual reconstruction of a .6-mile stretch of LA 45 from the new bridge to the levee-protected portion of Jean Lafitte.

“Certain infrastructure is referred to as critical, but in this case, we have a single crossing to connect Louisiana residents to their schools, jobs, businesses, and emergency services, while at the same time allow safe easy marine passage,” said Secretary Wilson.

Once completed, the expectation is for marine traffic to return to Barataria Bayou. The remnants of the deconstructed bridge will be converted into a fishing pier so that it remains part of the town’s legacy.

“It is a monumental day for the people of Barataria and Lafitte who have suffered so much. This is a giant step forward towards resiliency and a massive quality of life improvement.”