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METAIRIE, LA — Causeway workers are showing off one of the bridge’s new safety features.
Along with the new railing that is being added to the southbound span, the bridge will also get new segmented shoulders that will be placed midway between each of the crossovers. The shoulders are designed to provide additional space for cars that breakdown on the bridge. Currently, there is no shoulder on either span of the bridge, so disabled cars must block traffic until they can be moved to a crossover or from the bridge all together.
In all, the bridge is getting more than $100 million in improvements. Drivers began paying higher tolls to cover the costs about two years ago. Enough money has since been collected to allow the work to get underway.
Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou wants to prevent cars from going into the water during crashes. Less than two weeks ago, on May 14, a pickup veered off the bridge and over the railing on the southbound span, crashing into the lake.
In the most recent case, nobody got hurt. A man, woman, and their dog were rescued from the water.
Dufrechou says that over the past 25 years, at least 18 vehicles have gone from the bridge into the water. He says the chances of survival are about 50-50.
Dufrechou says that the new railing should be completely installed within the next year. He says it would have prevented the pickup from going into the lake earlier this month had it been in place at the time.
As for the segmented shoulders, Dufrechou says that the first one should be finished sometime in August. He expects an additional one to be completed approximately every month after that.