Another Causeway toll increase may be necessary to combat rising operational costs

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 4:12 PM CDT
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(WVUE) - The price to travel to New Orleans from the North Shore across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway may be going up.

It’s too soon to say, but the increased toll may be necessary to combat rising costs, officials said.

In 2017, the toll jumped from $3 to $5, or from $2 to $3 for those with toll tags, when a $100 million safety program was implemented.

While operational costs may increase, the Causeway’s safety measures have been successful.

Guardrails on the southbound span were raised by 21 inches to prevent rollovers into Lake Pontchartrain, which has resulted in only 13 incidents since implementation.

“Everybody stayed on the bridge in the lanes as they were supposed to,” said Carlton Dufrechou, Causeway General Manager.

Additionally, 14 new safety pullout lanes were created, reducing rear-end accidents caused by disabled vehicles from 62 in 2017 to 29 last year.

Causeway Bridge updated safety features
Causeway Bridge updated safety features

Aside from the improvements, officials say a toll increase may once again be necessary due to rising insurance, fuel, and labor costs.

“The original bond for the safety programs were instituted in 2016, that’s part of that we are required every seven years to adjust for inflation,” said Dufrechou.

Officials will have more information about the potential impact on tolls and inflation by mid-summer.

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Some commuters are not pleased with the possibility of another toll increase, with one stating that they “wouldn’t like it” but would still pay it.

However, as the potential for a toll hike looms, officials continue to monitor the situation and gather more information before making any decisions.

Causeway officials have also noted an increase in the number of breakdowns on the bridge due to drivers running out of high-priced gas. They advise drivers to make sure they have enough fuel to avoid stopping in traffic lanes and to stay off their cell phones, which can cause distractions and increase accidents.

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