Causeway toll hike hits Saturday morning

Causeway toll hike hits Saturday morning
Published: May. 5, 2017 at 10:32 AM CDT|Updated: May. 5, 2017 at 4:04 PM CDT
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Get ready to pay more to cross the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.

Beginning early Saturday morning coming from the north shore toll for tag holders go up to $3 while cash customers will pay $5.

The toll hike is all part of a plan to increase safety on the bridge.

The causeway commission wants to use the increase to pay for a multi-million dollar bond issue that will be used to install safety pullout bays and better guardrails for the southbound lanes.

Some drivers are not thrilled about the increase. They understand the reasoning, but just wish some of the Causeway's money was split on a smaller scale.

Money currently goes to seven Lake Pontchartrain Basin parishes.

"I'm against it because the money is split so many ways between different parishes," said north shore resident John Simon. "Back when it was put in place, maybe that was the case, but because of the growth of St. Tammany, Jefferson, and Orleans, I think the money should be split between three parishes."

Other drivers feel the cost is too high for a bridge they already feel is safe enough.

"[Overboard crashes] happened, what, 16 times in 22 years? Why do we have to pay millions of dollars to protect people from being stupid," Jeff Sharpe, a Mandeville resident, questioned.

But the Causeway commission maintains with new vehicles on the bridge the safety standards must be boosted.

"Every life is priceless, bottom line. If you look at the stats, overboards are increasing, we've had six in the last three years. There's no two ways about it with more traffic, higher profile SUVs, one of every two vehicles on the causeway is a high center of gravity vehicle. That bridge was not designed for those vehicles," Carlton Dufrechou, the General Manager of the Causeway, said.

It's one reason why people are rushing to pick up toll tags to save $2 a trip.

"I'm not gonna pay five dollars twice a week, forty dollars a month. I'm not doing that, it's just crazy, so yeah, toll tag makes sense," Kaitlin Darrah, a Causeway commuter, said.

Signs reflecting the toll increase have already been posted.

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