METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - The Causeway Commission has been looking over a series of innovative designs, including a cable support structure, as they select a firm to supervise $100-million worth of safety improvements.
The project won't be cheap but officials believe it will make the bridge much safer.
Since the Causeway was built more than 60 years ago, safety has been a major concern especially since there are no emergency lanes.
"What we have is a 20th-century bridge with 21st-century traffic," said Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou.
The Causeway Commission raised tolls by a dollar earlier this year to pay for 12 safety emergency pull out bays and guardrail improvements. Commissioners also sent out word to competing design firms to come up with new innovative ideas.
"We wanted out of the box thinking," said Dufrechou.
The ideas are in and the design firm has been selected. One called for a cable support system for 12 safety pullout bays. Another proposed building a fiberglass deck. But in the end Causeway officials went with the Volkert firm and a more traditional piling design.
"It is one of the simplest and most elegant and mimics the construction of the existing bridge," said Dufrechou.
One big plus of the designs submitted so far is that the safety bays will be much longer than first envisioned.
Causeway officials first proposed 12 safety bays of around 670 feet in length but that will likely be expanded to 1000 feet.
"Right now we have 3 1/2 miles between crossovers if we get this thousand foot length, we cut the distance between the stopping area in half," said Dufrechou.
Total price tag for the safety pull out bays is $60-million with work expected to begin early next year on the Northbound span.
A $40-million guard rail construction improvement project will likely move forward early next year on the opposite Southbound span.
Causeway officials anticipate no bridge closures during construction.