Causeway Looking At Ways To Improve Safety On Older, Southboud Span

The Causeway Commission is looking at ways to improve safety on the bridge.  The project has been in the works since this past spring.  The general manager of the bridge, Carlton Dufrechou, says this week’s deadly accident that killed a 19-year-old man highlights the need for improved safety measures.

Dufrechou says several vehicles have gone over the edge of the bridge and into the water.  Some of those cases involved the northbound span but only because of, say, a collision involving the bridge and a barge — sending a vehicle into the water.

He says all of the accidents where events on the bridge sent vehicles into the water involved the southbound span.  Dufrechou says there have been ten such cases in the past 20 years, three of them this year alone.

So the Causeway Commission is looking at raising the sides of the older, southbound span.  The work could cost tens of millions of dollars.  Dufrechou knows many drivers might prefer to see a wider lane with an emergency shoulder — and he would too  — but that might cost close to a billion dollars.  Since there’s no identifiable source for that kind of project, the less expensive plan is probably more realistic.

Already, the bridge has an agreement with Texas A&M to study various methods of raising the sides of the southbound span.

“It’s not only cutting edge, we’ve got to prove that it works, so Texas A&M is one of the few places that actually can run a crash test,” Dufrechou said from is office Wednesday afternoon.