On Oct. 6, 1983, life as St. Charles Parish citizens had known it for over 250 years changed forever with the opening of the Luling/Destrehan Bridge. It was hailed as one of the biggest events of the millennium. The new link it provided between the east and west banks of the river spurred residential and economic growth and offered opportunities for cultural and social interaction.
In 1984, the bridge was recognized as the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement of 1984 by the American Society of Civil Engineers for its unique design. It was the third major cable-stayed bridge in the United States. As of 2010, it is the only bridge in the United States that is cable-stayed with an orthotropic deck.
Land under the bridge has been leased by the parish from federal and state governments for public use.
East and west bridge parks provide walking and jogging paths; tennis courts; playground areas; baseball, softball, and football fields; pavilions for family gatherings; concession stands; and space for fairs and festivals as well as other community events.
Bike paths with scenic overlooks on the Mississippi River levee connect St. Charles Parish with adjacent parishes. The paths are enjoyed by walkers, joggers, and cyclists.
Hale Boggs Bridge
In March of 1985, the Mississippi River Bridge between Luling and Destrehan was renamed the Hale Boggs Bridge. Governor Edwin Edwards, U.S. Representative Lindy Boggs (Mrs. Hale Boggs), and numerous state and local public officials gathered to dedicate the bridge to the late congressman who was instrumental in having it built.
Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr., was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives for District 2, which included St. Charles Parish. Representative Boggs served in the House from 1941 to 1943, becoming the house majority leader. Following an unsuccessful re-election bid, he joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 as an ensign and served the remainder of World War II. Boggs returned to politics in 1946 and was re-elected thirteen times. In October of 1972, while he was still majority leader, the twin-engine airplane in which Congressman Boggs and Congressman Nick Begish were traveling disappeared over a remote section of Alaska. The airplane presumably crashed and was never found. They were declared dead on January 3, 1973. His wife Corinne Claiborne “Lindy” Boggs (born March 13, 1916), by a special election, filled the vacancy which occurred from the death of Congressman Boggs. She was re-elected to eight succeeding Congresses from March 20, 1973 to January 3, 1991. Congresswoman Boggs served as United States Ambassador to the Vatican from 1997 to 2000.
In 1990, with the passage of Public Law 10-398, the United States Congress created the Mississippi River Corridor Study Commission that resulted in the creation of Louisiana’s Mississippi River Road Commission and the development of the Mississippi River Road Master Plan, a blueprint for the River Road’s future. In 1991, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the historic Mississippi River Road Corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans one of the nation’s eleven most endangered historic properties. It is a legacy worth preserving!
This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.