New Causeway Bridge rails may already be making a difference

Causeway Bridge rails may have already prevented a vehicle from going over

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Causeway officials believe a recent accident may have provided the first test of newly raised guard rails.

And they say those new rails may have made a difference in minimizing injury as other safety improvements are also coming on line.

Video from 60 years ago shows the Causeway in it’s original design. Low guard rails were not much of a problem for the lower cars of the time, but things have changed.

“Right now we have 4.5 miles of rail completed,” said Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou.

New higher guardrails designed to keep larger trucks and SUV’s from going overboard now protect about 10 percent of the southbound span and may have made a difference in a crasgh two weeks ago .

FOX 8 obtained video showing the aftermath of a collision between a diabetic driver in an SUV, and another SUV pulling a trailer.

“One SUV was pulling a trailer, another individual was speeding and came up behind it, and hit the trailer of the lead vehicle, and caused it to go against the rail,” said Dufrechou.

Dufrechou says the trailer stayed on the bridge road bed, as did the two SUV’s, and the drivers were not injured.

"To my knowledge this is the first time these new rails were hit," said Dufrechou.

Dufrechou says the driver of the vehicle which caused the crash had apparently slipped into a diabetic coma and was not ticketed.

“They gave him some glucose and he didn’t realize he was on the bridge,” said Dufrechou.

Meantime, other bridge safety improvements, like the thousand foot safety pull out bays, are also moving forward.

"Two are complete and another one will be complete in about a month,” said Dufrechou.

If you do pull off into open of the new emergency safety bays, there’s something you should know before you pull back into the main traffic lanes on the bridge.

Causeway officials want you to notify bridge police if you pull into one of the bays, or you could be ticketed.

“We would like to have lights to help you get out to get you safely back into flowing traffic,” said Dufrechou, who adds the new pull out bays should be completed by late Spring of 2020.

Dufrechou says work on the new guardrails isn’t moving as quickly as first thought. That’s because rail installers are having to drill into more iron, called rebar, inside the concrete than they thought they would.

Still though, he says the new rails should be finished by June of next year.

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