THE LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN CAUSEWAY will be a bumper-to-bumper parking lot by the year 2012 unless $82 million dollars is spent to rehabilitate, upgrade and add to the existing 24-mile-long structure, the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission was told Friday by its engineering consultants.
A “Master Plan” detailing major rehabilitation to current engineering standards was accepted by the causeway commission for implementation over the next eight years.
“You’ve got two old ladies out there, one’s 36 years old and the other’s 23 years old, and that’s old for bridges,” said Verdi Adams of Gulf Engineers & Consultants.
Adams offered three proposals, including building a third bridge to the west of the original span.
Faced with having to pay a higher toll, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway commuters bought toll tags at a record pace in the weeks leading up to and following the May 6 fee hike. Bridge officials said they typically issued about 300 new tags per month.
The Causeway Commission has selected four firms to participate in a design competition to draw up plans to build sections of shoulder on the 24-mile bridge. At its recent monthly meeting, the commission chose AECOM, Design Engineering Inc., Modjeski & Masters Inc. and Volkert Inc. to provide initial design/development for the project, estimated to cost $50 million.
The perils of having to slow down on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway were illustrated in two separate crashes in May. A Causeway tow truck and a motorcycle were rear-ended while slowing to turn into a crossover, crashes that were recorded by cameras on the bridge.
The Causeway Commission on Wednesday kicked off what officials called a “first of its kind” design competition for improvements to the nearly six-decade-old Lake Pontchartrain bridge, giving four firms 90 days to draw up preliminary designs for adding segmented shoulders to the outside of each of the two 24-mile-long spans.