Safety enhancements planned for Causeway - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Safety enhancements planned for Causeway Bridge

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

The Causeway Commission considers big changes to improve safety. The enhancements could mean higher tolls.

"I think it's extremely safe. I've always been amazed at how fast, if I call the police number that somebody comes," says Gina Hall.

Most drivers tell FOX 8, they feel comfortable traveling the Causeway every day, but several incidents involving vehicle breakdowns can cause concern.

"Yeah, I've seen a couple of breakdowns on the bridge," says Leon Puissegur.

"We've got a safe bridge, but this thing has been here for 50-years and the biggest problem, frankly, is breakdowns," says Carlton Dufrechou.

The Causeway experiences on average between 200 and 300 car breakdowns a month, which can become a real safety hazard that ties up traffic.

"Everything literally stops. From the dispatchers to police officers, they are all focused on getting to that breakdown right away," says Dufrechou.

President of the Causeway Commission, Carlton Dufrechou, is proposing a plan to add safety lanes on portions of the bridge.

"It would be a segmented shoulder, basically a two block long shoulder that would be placed on either side of the northbound bridge and southbound bridge. There would be a total of 12 of them," says Dufrechou.

The project , though, would cost between 50 and 60 million dollars. If that plan is ultimately approved, those safety pull off lanes could be incorporated into a shoulder.

"As much as an opportunist as I am, I cannot see any way to reasonably afford that. Whether it's through grants or toll increases, it's too high," says Dufrechou.

He says adding a shoulder that runs the entire length of the bridge would cost three quarters of a billion dollars, so for now, he's focused on the 12 safety lanes.

Still, it could mean higher tolls.

"Oh, I'm not for more tolls. I didn't want the tolls on the West bank Expressway either," says Carla Fisher.

"It's like three dollars now. I think that's high enough," says Cindy Emcalade.

Some drivers have a different opinion.

"I never mind paying if I see it working well, and I see it working well there, so I wouldn't have an issue with higher tolls. I'd love to see something special for commuters," says Gina Hall.

Causeway leaders see the enhancements as a safety must, but it's sure to spark debate among drives who commute over the bridge every day.

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