Story Summary

Feb 6 Causeway accident

captureAn accident shut down the Causeway bridge in both directions while recovery crews look for a truck that caught fire, crashing through a barricade and then into lake Pontchartrain.

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News with a Twist
02/08/13

It’s time to talk about the Causeway Bridge

What to do with the Causeway Bridge?  Or should I say bridges?

The original Causeway Bridge, the one going from the north shore to the south shore, was originally built in 1956.   That means it’s a fairly old bridge.  A nearly 60 year old bridge. The newer span was built in 1969, meaning it’s nearly 45 years old.  Any other city in America would have built another span by now, or would have replaced the aging structures entirely.

The problem with the Causeway Bridges, besides being outdated, is that they have no emergency shoulder.  Who knows, but a shoulder may have stopped the tragedy that took place earlier this week when a truck and its driver tragically went off the bridge and into the lake.

Each weekday 42,000 cars cross the Causeway.  That’s 210,000 a week, or almost 11 million per year.   To have a couple of outdated bridges with absolutely no plan as to how to improve the situation is entirely unacceptable. What’s most amazing is the affluent, educated, well-to-do north shore community accepts this below average structure.

It’s been over 4 decades since the 2nd causeway was built.   How much longer do we need to wait before the we see the next major improvements to these iconic structures?  After another motorist loses their life?  Lets hope not.

149397_359024064210686_156390063_nA body was recovered from Lake Pontchartrain this morning.

Causeway Bridge general manager Carlton Dufrechou tells WGNO News that the Jefferson Parish Land Air Sea Emergency Rescue (LASER) team brought the body to the Bonnabel Boat Launch, and that it is the driver of the dump truck that was recovered from the lake on Thursday.

The driver has been identified as 39-year-old Christopher Sergeant from New Orleans.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

News
02/07/13

Mystery Lingering From Causeway Accident

Thursday afternoon, a heavy-duty truck rolled off the causeway with its giant crane properly stowed.  Emergency crews used the truck to pull a similarly big dump truck from the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain.

Causeway Commission General Manager Carlton Dufrechou says crews had to make sure the response truck was properly situated on the bridge so the southbound span wouldn’t be compromised from the extreme weight.

Moments after the response truck rolled off the bridge, a flatbed semi followed with the disfigured.  Traffic on the bridge was closed in both directions for hours Thursday afternoon while the work was underway.

By 3:30, traffic was once again flowing freely in both directions, but the case wasn’t closed.

“Unfortunately the driver was not in the vehicle when it was recovered.  The search continues for him right now,” Dufrechou said.

The dump truck crashed Wednesday night after it caught fire, took out a stretch of the bridge’s guard rails, and flipped into the lake, landing upside down.

“There was definitely a fire.  Whether or not there was an explosion is still questionable,” Dufrechou said.

Rain hampered attempts to locate the truck and check for its driver Wednesday night.  Thursday morning, boats headed out from the boat launch at Bonnabel in Metairie and quickly located the truck but found no driver in the crushed cab.

Causeway workers checked surveillance video and found the truck going through the southbound toll plaza.  They were able to determine who owned it.

Thursday morning, that owner confirmed it was his truck.  He also told police the name of the driver.  As of Thursday night, the Causeway Commission and police had not released the driver’s name.

The search for the driver was expected to resume Friday morning.

captureFollowing the removal of the dump truck that crashed off the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Wednesday night, the Causeway Police have re-opened the southbound lanes. All lanes in both directions are now open.

captureStatement from Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office:

On February 6, 2013, 5:09 PM, our 911 Center began receiving calls from motorists traveling on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge (southbound) of a vehicle on fire as well as additional reports of this same vehicle taking out a portion of the bridge railing and going over into Lake Pontchartrain.

Shortly thereafter, around 5:15 PM, Causeway Bridge Police requested the assistance of our LASER (Land Air Sea & Emergency Rescue) unit to aid in the rescue and recovery of the occupant(s) and the vehicle.  As JPSO Divers entered the water they quickly located the dump truck, however, because of the condition of the vehicle, they were unable to see if anyone was inside of it.  Due to the weather conditions worsening, along with poor lighting conditions, all efforts were suspended at that time.

This morning, around 7:00 AM, JPSO LASER Divers with the assistance of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Causeway Police Department resumed search and rescue efforts.  As the day progressed, divers were able to peer into the cab of the dump truck, however, they found no one inside.  Efforts are underway to remove the vehicle from the water this time.  Upon completion of the vehicle removal, rescue members will begin to conduct a search and recovery operation.

We will not be releasing any additional information other than what is contained in this release.  Important updates, including any information relative to the driver of the dump truck will be released at a later time.

We will continue to work in conjunction with our law enforcement partners in this endeavor.

causeway1Police have closed the southbound lanes of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to recover a vehicle in the lake. The process is expected to take 2 to 3 hours, according to the Department of Transportation and Development.

An accident shut down the Causeway bridge in both directions while recovery crews look for a truck that caught fire, crashing through a barricade and then into lake Pontchartrain.

Since 5 o’clock Wednesday the Coast Guard and Jefferson Parish deputies were in the water looking for a dump truck or small work vehicle.

Causeway police say the crash happened in the southbound lanes about 4.5 miles from the south shore.

They say a section of the bridge’s barricade is missing.

It’s not known who… or how many people were in the truck.

The recovery operation was temporarily suspended to bring in heavier equipment.

The Northbound lanes were reopened about an hour after the crash.

Southbound lanes were still closed Wednesday night.

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