NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Causeway Commission awarded a $33.6 million contract to a Baton Rouge company Wednesday (Oct. 31) for the construction of new safety guardrails on the southbound side of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge.
The Causeway is the only straight shot between the north and south shores, and according to Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou, it could use some safety improvements. Dufrechou said the older southbound bridge is the more dangerous. In the past 20 years, the Causeway has seen 17 instances of cars or trucks going overboard, he said. All but one were on the southbound bridge.
“We’re really relieved that we’re finally going to get the rails, the safety improvements underway,” Dufrechou said.
The Causeway Commission awarded the bid to JB James Construction to build guardrails on the southbound bridge. Drivers can expect that work to start in February or March of 2019, Defrechou said.
“The southbound bridge has rails that are only 25 inches above the roadway," Dufrechou said. “More traditional roads would be 30 to 36 inches or even 40, and that’s where we’re going with the southbound rails and the other segmented shoulders. That will almost quadruple emergency stopping areas on the Causeway.”
There is an early incentive for the contractor, Defrechou said, and the work is projected to take a year to complete after construction starts.
In addition to new rails, Dufrechou said commuters could see construction developments for the 12 emergency safety bays on both sides of the bridge in as little as a month - a project that’s said to quadruple the emergency stopping areas.
“The segmented shoulders are the most significant safety improvements on the Causeway since the first bridge was built in 1969,” Dufrechou said.
Neither project is expected to create commuting traffic delays.
“All the work will be week nights and weekends, so there will be no impact to our commuters at all,” Dufrechou said.
So for those looking for a safe, smooth drive, they can expect the projects to be completed in 2020. The construction is being fully funded by increased toll revenue from the bridge.