Bridging Lake Pontchartrain

Tour curated by: Graham Cooper & University of New Orleans History Department

The bridging of St. Tammany Parish and Orleans Parishes had been an issue of public interest from before the age of the automobile. Rail and ferry crossings of the lake were already well established by the time automobile bridges were contemplated in the 1910s. A great deal of public interest and propaganda developed regarding the earliest proposals of an auto bridge across Lake Pontchartrain or adjoining waters.

Locations for Tour

The Times-Picayune reported substantially on updates regarding two bids which the Louisiana Highway Commission was deliberating. Sometimes the paper printed multiple stories per day, from late 1924 until a decision was made in February 1925. One…

The first bridge built across the Pontchartrain was the Watson-Williams Toll Bridge, also known as the Five-Mile Bridge and now the Maestri Bridge; the Louisiana Highway Commission approved its construction in 1925.

The Chef Menteur Pass Bridge offered free access to and from New Orleans, helping to make the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain and the rest of the Gulf Coast more accessible to the city. Political candidate Huey Long was a vocal opponent to toll…

The second free bridge opened in 1930, ensuring the failure of the privately owned and managed Watson-Williams toll bridge. First as Public Service Commissioner and then as a gubernatorial candidate, Huey Long had won a great deal of support as a…