MANDEVILLE, La. (WGNO) – The agency that regulates the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway voted tonight to raise the tolls on the bridge after heated opposition from residents who will be impacted by the increase.
Currently, it costs $3 to take the Causeway from the North Shore to the South Shore, or $2 if you have a toll tag. It’s free to cross it from the South Shore to the North Shore.
The toll will increase to $5 if you’re paying cash and $3 if you have a toll tag.
The money raised will finance $103 million in bonds for new safety features, including stopping areas that would allow drivers to move their cars out of the roadway, and higher safety rails on the southbound bridge.
Members of the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission said the earliest the increases could take effect is seven to eight months, but it could take much longer. They have to wait until the bonds are sold. Construction will start after the bonds are sold, which could take 18 months or longer.
Commission members argued that the toll has been raised only once in the 60 years that the bridge has been operating, and that increase was for drivers without a toll tag.
The vote came after almost two hours of comments from the audience, most of whom were there to voice their opposition to the measure.
Residents said safety features won’t change the behavior of unsafe drivers who shave, put on makeup and do other dangerous things while crossing the bridge.
Opponents also complained that the commission members don’t live on the North Shore and won’t be affected by the increase.
Commission members said they sent 32,000 emails to residents – twice – and received only 64 responses.