Crescent City Connection - Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina

As Hurricane Katrina approached the city in August 2005, the CCCD halted toll collections on August 26 to aid in speed of evacuation of the Metro area. Two overhead signs were blown down on the older span, but no other damage occurred to either bridge. After the storm passed, much of the east bank of New Orleans flooded severely (see Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans). With all other major and minor highways out of town flooded in both directions, the CCC was the only open highway into or out of the east bank of Orleans Parish. (One other route, Leake Avenue/Old River Road, a small road along the Mississippi River levee, was initially blocked by debris but was cleared by local volunteer work). Two days after the storm passed, the Gretna police setup a roadblock on the bridge, refusing passage to evacuees. A lawsuit alleges that the bridge was closed due to racism against the largely African-American evacuees, while the city maintains that they had no facilities or manpower to serve the evacuees.

In the initial weeks following the storm, only emergency personnel and contractors were permitted to use the bridge. The bridge reopened to traffic in mid-September as decreasing water levels on the East Bank of Orleans Parish allowed Interstate 10 to reopen and residents to return, but then was temporarily closed to regular traffic again when another evacuation was declared due to Hurricane Rita, with the bridge again reopening in late September. Toll collection resumed on October 10, 2005 after a six-week suspension, as the revenue was needed to maintain operations. Long lines at the toll booth lanes during non-rush times became common, due to a shortage of toll collectors and electronic toll tags, combined with heavy usage of the bridge due to the many New Orleanians staying with friends and relatives on the Westbank while they worked on gutting and repairing their flooded Eastbank homes.

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