Causeway Commission set to vote on raising tolls

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MANDEVILLE, La. (WGNO) - The Causeway Commission will vote on a new funding Wednesday evening days after a pickup truck went off the Causeway into Lake Pontchartrain. That driver is OK, but the crash has lots of people talking about the bridge’s safety.

The proposed $100 million plan would raise tolls, so shoulders can be added between crossovers and improve railings. Toll tag users would be charged an extra dollar heading southbound. It will be an extra $2-dollars if you don't have a toll tag.

Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou told WGNO 50 percent of vehicles on the bridge are SUVs or pickups. The current guardrails were made decades ago, and need to be higher to protect those bigger vehicles. Dufrechou also said adding shoulders could decrease the number of accidents and backups.

The crash on Monday was the 15th overboard incident in the last 20 years. Fourteen of those accidents happening on the southbound side of the bridge. Last year, there were 178 crashes on the Causeway.

Opponents of the plan say such spending is not needed, and that a lot of the money raised by the tolls doesn’t directly go to bridge improvements, but to side projects. The Concerned Citizens of Saint Tammany group held a forum discussing their concerns Tuesday night.

The commission will vote Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in the St. Tammany Council Chambers in Mandeville.