Motorists who normally use the St. Claude Avenue Bridge should be advised that the bridge may have to open during rush hour traffic to accommodate the safe movement of maritime traffic.
Under normal circumstances, the St. Claude Avenue Bridge over the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal (Industrial Canal) does not open for barge or ship traffic during bridge curfew hours, on Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
However, high water conditions are making it difficult for maritime traffic transiting the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal Lock between the Mississippi River and the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal (IHNC) to wait for the bridge curfew to end. Therefore, the Coast Guard has cancelled the normal bridge curfew that expedites rush-hour vehicular traffic and advised the Port of New Orleans it should open the St. Claude Avenue Bridge and allow maritime traffic to go through the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock when the vessel signals for an opening.
This advisory affects only the St. Claude Avenue Bridge, which is lifted in coordination with the IHNC Lock; it does not apply to the other draw bridges that cross the IHNC, such as the Claiborne Avenue Bridge and the Florida Avenue Bridge.
Aside from the change to bridge operations, there hasn’t been a significant impact to normal operations at the Port of New Orleans despite high water conditions. All public port facilities in the jurisdiction of the Port of New Orleans remain open. The Port continues to handle cargo ships and cruise ships under its normal schedule.
The Associated Branch Pilots and the Crescent River Pilots continue to guide vessels loaded up to 45 feet of draft, the project depth of the Lower Mississippi River. The Bonnet Carre Spillway, the reservoir that the Corps of Engineers has opened to divert river water into Lake Pontchartrain, is located upriver from New Orleans. The spillway operation does not have an impact on international ship traffic in the Port of New Orleans.
“The Port of New Orleans is monitoring the high water situation on a regular basis and coordinating our activities with the local maritime community, the Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange. “We don’t anticipate any significant impact of the high water conditions, but we will continue to keep the international shipping community informed about any conditions that could affect port operations.”