Causeway safety upgrades raise possibility of toll hike - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Causeway safety upgrades raise possibility of toll hike

MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) -

Causeway officials told commuters Wednesday that a program to raise guardrails and add emergency safety bays could cost $110 million, and a toll increase might be the only way to pay for it.

Officials provided statistics showing that 12 vehicles have gone through the guardrails and into the lake since 1993, killing nine people. Eleven of the vehicles was either an SUV or a pickup trucks.

"About half the vehicles we now see on the bridge are either SUVs or pickup trucks," said General Manager Carlton Dufrechou.

Texas A&M highway engineers have proposed two options. One guardrail option would raise it to 37 inches, the other to 46 inches.

"The option would be to mount a rail to the existing parapet," said engineer William Williams.

Causeway officials are also looking at 12 pull-out safety lanes.

"I've got a feeling we're going to see one of these new plans," said commuter Jason Cottone. "I don't necessarily want to see higher tolls.

Others say because there hasn't been a toll increase since 1995, it may be time to consider one to improve safety.

No timetable has been set for implementing news safety measures. Texas A&M is planning actual crash tests on some trial barriers before the end of the year.

Causeway officials said they will try to get federal grants to help cover some of what the upgrades will cost.

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