JEFFERSON PARISH, La. -- The guard rails and the tolls on the Causeway Bridge are one step closer to going up this year.
According to a report from The Advocate, the Jefferson Parish Council unanimously authorized the agency in charge of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to pursue state approval for a bond issue that would pay for more than $100 million in safety improvements to the bridge.
The council's vote follows a similar, though divided, one in October by the St. Tammany Parish Council. State law requires the Causeway Commission to receive approval from both parish councils before seeking the type of bond issue in question.
A toll increase approved by the Causeway Commission in August will pay for the new safety features, which are aimed at making sure vehicles don't plunge off the bridge during accidents. The increase will only go into effect if the bond is approved by the state.
The increase will raise tolls from $3 to $5 for those paying cash and from $2 to $3 for toll-tag users.
According to Causeway officials, 16 cars have gone off the 24-mile bridge since 1994, killing 12 people. All but one of those wrecks and two of those deaths have occurred on the southbound span, which is older and has a lower guardrail.
Opponents argue that the Causeway's safety record is generally good, given that about 42,000 vehicles cross it each weekday. They say it makes little sense to spend so much money on preventing crashes that are so rare.
See the full story from The Advocate: www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/politics/article_70fd9966-d82b-11e6-85ff-f71c9ee08ad5.html
The New Orleans Advocate