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METAIRIE – A new phase of improvements slated to be the most significant set of safety upgrades to the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in the last 50 years has begun.

A floating pile driving plant owned and operated by Boh Brothers moved into position in the lake today, according to Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou.

New railings and safety shoulders will be constructed and set in place along both spans.

“The safety shoulders and new rails are the most significant safety upgrades for the Causeway since the second span was built in 1969,” Dufrechou said. “We’re anxious to get them underway.”

A total of 189 pilings will be constructed and driven into the lakebed before caps will be placed on top of the pilings, and the road deck for the safety shoulders will be constructed on top of those caps.

The construction process is similar to the techniques pioneered to construct both spans of the Causeway in the 1950s and 1960s.

“Driving of the production piles will begin around Halloween,” he said. “All three major components…are fabricated on shore, then transported to the bridge by barges, and erected on site. This prefabricated, modular construction saves time, is more cost effective…and causes fewer impacts to our commuters.”

The entire safety upgrade should be completed by Christmas 2019.