A new bridge providing a direct link between St. Francisville and New Roads opened early today because of high water on the Mississippi River.

State transportation officials say that after the $408 million John James Audubon Bridge is fully operational, the St. Francisville-New Roads ferry will shut down permanently.

The ferry service had been scheduled to close when traffic started using the bridge. Transportation officials say lane closures on the bridge may be required to complete construction.