NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - For the first time in decades there are new significant safety measures happening on the Causeway Bridge.
"It is a monumental undertaking and a monumental achievement for everyone working here," said Carlton Dufrechou, Causeway Commission General Manager.
Crews will install 12 emergency safety pull out bays, six on both south and northbound lanes to help drivers.
"The more emergency stopping area we can get the better,” Dufrechou said. “The safer this bridge will be."
Causeway Commission Director of Operations, Robert Graham, says up to a dozen cars breakdown on the bridge every day.
“Anytime we have a distressed motorist in the roadway with no shoulders, our guys are good, they get there within three minutes of less but anytime we can get them out of the line of travel until we can get there, it’s definitely a big aid,” said Graham.
For three weeks in June, contractors will close the right lane, where the bays will be, for nighttime work to remove the guard railings. The first bay should be completed by the end of June then they will start on the rest.
"It is a necessity for the future of all of our commuters," said Dufrechou.
Along with this, the Causeway Commission will raise the rails 25 inches, work that’s already begun on the north end of the span. "Concrete barrier on the existing southbound bridge was designed in the 1950s for low center of gravity cars,” Dufrechou said. “It's only 25 inches above the roadway.”
Dufrechou believes the truck that went over the bridge this month would have been prevented if the rails were higher.
"That aluminum handrail was never designed for impacts,” said Dufrechou. “So, we're adding a good two feet of steel on top of the existing concrete barrier. This is going to get the bridges up to 21st century standards."
The toll increase in 2017 is paying for the combined $100 million price tag for the two projects. These projects should be completed by the end of the year.