The Maestri Bridge (originally known as the Pontchartrain Bridge and later as the Watson-Williams Pontchartrain Bridge and the Five Mile Bridge) carries U.S. Route 11 (US 11) across Lake Pontchartrain between New Orleans and Slidell, Louisiana. The bridge opened on February 18, 1928 as the first permanent crossing of Lake Pontchartrain. The 4.78-mile (7.69 km) bridge was the longest concrete bridge in the world upon completion. The bridge is 35 feet (11 m) wide and has two bascule-type draw spans for passing vessels and barges. The bridge was originally a toll facility, costing $1.25 for a vehicle with one driver, plus $0.10 for each additional passenger.
Louisiana Governor Huey Long was opposed to toll bridges and offered to have the state purchase the bridge from its private owners. The offer was rejected, so Governor Long constructed two free bridges to the east along U.S. Route 90 across Chef Menteur Pass and the Rigolets Pass. With a free alternative, the toll bridge faced financial ruin and was sold to the state in 1938 for $940,000. Following the purchase, the bridge's name was changed to the Maestri Bridge, named after Robert Maestri, the mayor of New Orleans. U.S. Route 11, formerly co-signed with U.S. Route 90 across the Chef Menteur and Rigolets Bridges, was re-routed onto the Maestri Bridge around 1941.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina virtually destroyed the I-10 Twin Span Bridge to the east. However, due to its sturdy construction, the Maestri Bridge was largely undamaged and was the only route to New Orleans from the East until the Twin Spans could be temporarily fixed (US-90 was also closed due to damage to the Fort Pike Bridge).
The bridge was closed in January 2012 for repairs. LA DOTD awarded a $5.7 million contract to rehabilitate the bridge's railings. It reopened on May 21.