FAQ

General:

  1. Why is it necessary to make these improvements?
    • Without shoulders, even minor vehicle maintenance issues like a flat tire can lead to significant traffic congestion and cause serious accidents. Getting disabled vehicles off the roadway is a basic and present need for causeway commuters.
    • We have seen a significant and disturbing increase in the number of overboards on the southbound span. As more and larger vehicles continue make their way across the bridge, we believe that trend will only increase. The rails need to be improved to modern standards as a matter of public safety.
  2. Isn’t this just a matter of a handful of bad drivers? Why do the rest of us have to pay?
    • While it’s true that distracted driving is the number one reason for accidents on the bridge, any vehicle, at the fault of the driver or not, is potentially at risk of an accident due to the lack of shoulders on the Causeway.
    • We believe improving the rails to keep vehicles from going overboard, whether at the fault of the driver or not, is a basic obligation of the GNOEC and a matter of public safety.
  3. You say the Causeway is one of the safest roadways in America, why do we need this then?
    • Striving to make the bridge as safe and efficient as possible is our mandate. As infrastructure all over the country is in disrepair or failing to live up to modern standards, we cannot afford to let the same thing happen to the Causeway. It’s too vital to our community. Constant upkeep, maintenance and improvements are necessary to do that.
    • Unlike other roadways around the state, the Causeway is almost completely funded, maintained and improved by tolls. We won’t receive state or federal funding. It’s up to us to maintain our bridge.
  4. Can’t we just lower speed limits, increase enforcement or some other less expensive means to reduce dangers?
    • Yes. And we are doing those things. Enforcement on the Causeway is more stringent than any other major highway in the state. We issue more than 1,100 citations a month.
    • It’s also important to note that the Causeway does not receive any income from citations. That all goes to St. Tammany and Jefferson parish.
  5. Won’t higher rails cause more accidents when vehicles are propelled back into the roadway?
    • No, the north bound bridge rails function similarly to how the improved south bound rails will function in that they prevent overboards by keeping vehicles on the roadway. Statistically, we do not see increased accident rates on the north bound bridge when compared to the south bound lane.

Money & Financing:

  1. Why can’t the GNOEC finance this themselves? Can’t the GNOEC slim down its operations and expenses to help pay for this?
    • The GNOEC actually operated with a smaller budget last year than we did 10 years ago. We are as slimmed down as we can be and still achieve our mandate of getting commuters across that bridge safely and efficiently every day.
  2. How can we trust that the GNOEC has spent our money wisely in the past?
    • Over the last 10 years, the GNOEC has received perfectly clean audits. All of our financials (income and expenses) are made public and available online. Our financial dealings are completely transparent.
  3. Why isn’t the bridge paid off by now?
    • The original bonds which financed the construction of each span were refinanced in 1973, 1986, 1992, 1999 and 2003 in order to make ongoing maintenance and improvements. The current balance is at around $43 million.
  4. Why do our toll dollars go to help police the Huey P. Long?
    • We are legally obligated by the State of Louisiana to police the Huey P. Long bridge. The legislature and the governor would have to change the law.
  5. Why shouldn’t just trucks and SUVs pay for this?
    • The safety improvements will help keep everyone safe, not just trucks and SUVs. We believe it’s best that all of us as commuters invest in that safety together.
  6. Will our extra toll dollars go ONLY to these safety improvements?
    • Yes. These dollars are specific to these improvements.
  7. When the improvements are done, will the toll increases be rolled back?
    • When the improvements are paid for, in about 40 years, we anticipate the tolls would be rolled back.
  8. Why isn’t the state pitching in to help?
    • The State doesn’t have surplus funds. The GNOEC is not a state-funded roadway. It’s our obligation to maintain and improve this bridge.

Construction:

  1. How long will this take?
    • About two years for the safety bays on both spans and one year for the rails on the south bound span.
  2. What measures will be in place to reduce impact on commuters?
    • Safety bays are the highest priority and would be constructed first. They would be built outboard of the existing roadway so would not impact traffic flow except for a short period nearing completion when existing rails would be removed to open access to the safety bays. Rails would be prefabricated off site and installed during non peak periods.
  3. Will this hinder evacuations if any are necessary?
    • No.
  4. How did you estimate the prices and who is going to benefit (who is the contractor)?
    • Estimates were developed by consulting engineers. No contracts have been awarded. Like all GNOEC projects, these improvements would be publicly advertised and bid. Our practice is to award to the lowest responsible bidder.