Posted on March 5, 2010 at 9:46 PM
Saturday, Mar 6 at 10:28 AM
NEW ORLEANS - For the 40,000 or so drivers who make their way across the Causeway Bridge each weekday, your travel time could soon get longer and in some cases a lot longer.
Traffic backups in the rear, cranes in the sky, and brake lights straight ahead. If you've ever headed northbound and exited I-10 for the Causeway Bridge it is nothing new.
"It backs up way up to Lakeview almost," said Titus Desoto, a Metairie driver.
But if you think this cluster of construction is bad…you ‘aint seen nothing yet. Upcoming work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to bring traffic to a screeching halt during peak morning travel times for north shore drivers trying to get across the lake.
"The potential back up on the bridge could be three miles out," said Carlton Dufrechou, General Manager Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission. "It may add 28 to 29 minutes, it might double the commute time."
Dufrechou oversees the management of the causeway bridge and says the construction is part of hurricane protection project by the corps and adds it could begin as early as July.
"And, unfortunately, that's going to be about two years worth of work," said Dufrechou.
"The project calls for building a flood wall across Causeway Blvd, stretching from one side to the other. As a result, construction crews will need to elevate the street so drivers can make their way over the wall.
In the meantime, both sides of traffic will be reduced to only two lanes.
"That's going to make the commute for me almost an hour now, just to come into work," said David Frady, Mandeville.
Driving southbond will give you the biggest wait times because of the traffic light on 6th street, but heading north will still mean about a ten minute delay.
"I'm going to have to leave the house extra early, I guess," said Desoto.
"I think of my husband, he does [the commute] way more often than I do," said Janine Graham of Lacombe. "I think I'm going to be waiting on diner way too often for him."
The Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission is now lobbying Jefferson Parish to make the 6th street light greener for longer. Dufrechou says computer models show that would lessen the 30 minute wait time down to about 16 minutes.
Drivers, however, say it still adds up to the makings of a commute nightmare.
"It's going to be impossible," said Paula "You may as well get comfortable they should put a Starbucks over there to get some coffee and stay awake for it."