Dangling 18-wheeler re-enforces Causeway's push for railing upgrades

Published: Oct. 31, 2014 at 1:10 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2014 at 1:23 AM CDT
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METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Causeway officials said the 18-wheeler crash Thursday was another serious example of why the bridge needs updating.

The truck dangled dangerously off the side of the bridge after, Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou said, the driver lost control.

"It appears that the driver of the truck just wasn't paying attention," Dufrechou said.

What may have been as simple as a momentary lapse in judgement caused some cars to sit for two hours, stuck on the southbound bridge behind the 18-wheeler as its cab hung over the railing and above Lake Pontchartrain.

"He rear-ended two vehicles, actually rear-ended one, clipped another one, and he tried to correct at the last minute, and as he tried to correct, he started going over the bridge. Good news was he didn't go all the way over, thank goodness," Dufrechou said.

Some drivers who have gone all the way over in the past few years have survived the drop, but others have been killed.

"Things can happen so quickly and without shoulders, it's imperative that people - all of us - pay attention," Dufrechou said.

It's why Dufrechou has made upgrading the railing system one of his top priorities.

"When I was looking at the truck earlier cantilevering over the side of the bridge, yeah it was definitely an example," Dufrechou said.

Research is already underway to test possible new railings. However, many drivers are worried about the estimated $50 million dollar price tag that may come with the upgrades.

The new railing crash test is scheduled for Dec. 8, and Dufrechou said he hopes a final engineering plan will be figured out by the end of the year.

The plan should keep cars and trucks like the one that crashed Thursday from breaking through the railing.

"It appears that it was empty, thank goodness, but nevertheless it's just another instance of - whenever you're driving, particularly on the Causeway, pay attention to what you're doing," Dufrechou said.

Dufrechou said the two other drivers involved were taken to the hospital, but they were in good condition.

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