MANDEVILLE - About 50,000 cars, trucks and motorcycles cross the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway every 36 hours.

Drivers of those vehicles will soon see progress on much anticipated safety upgrades to the 24 mile long span.

"It would be nice to actually see some progress start," Alex Martinez, a frequent bridge user said. "You think that it would have started already."

"I want to see improvements, said Chad Adams who says he crosses the bridge about twice a month. "I don't want to see anybody get hurt on the bridge or anything like that."

Cash tolls on the bridge jumped from $3 to $5 last May.

The additional money collected will pay for new, higher guardrails on the older southbound span and 12 safety shoulders installed outside of the bridge's two spans.

Test piles for those new shoulders start next month.

"You'll see a barge on the west side of the bridge," Causeway GM Carlton Dufrechou said. "They'll be driving three test piles. I think the longest one is 120 feet."

Dufrechou revealed the new segmented shoulders will be about 16 feet wide and 1008 feet long.

That's about four city blocks in length.

"It's going to more, almost triple the emergency stopping area on the bridge," Dufrechou said.

That's important when you consider there are 10 to 12 breakdowns on the bridge per day with the potential to cause long traffic back-ups.

Construction of the shoulders is now expected to begin in October.

Work on the new 46 inch high guardrails is also scheduled to begin by the end of the year.

They are expected to prevent overboard accidents on the bridge which now number two to three per year.

"As often as you hear about people flying off the side of the bridge, I feel like it's extremely important," Martinez said.

The project is expected to take about a year to complete.

"The entire project should be completed by Christmas 2019, both the segmented shoulders and the rails," Dufrechou said.

Dufrechou admits the construction will cause periodic lane closures on the bridge. But, he claims most of those lane closures will will happen at night.