If you've been paying any attention to construction news lately, you'll have recognized the recent massive push for safety. Not only is there a concern for the safety of workers during such a great labor shortage, but there's also building concern about the safety of older structures. The Causeway Bridge is one of those older structures causing much concern for commuters and officials alike. The problem? A 20th century design in 21st century conditions.
The Causeway Bridge, the longest bridge over water in the world, spans 24 miles across Lake Pontchartrain. The first span was completed in the 1956, followed by the second and final span in 1969. In this same year as its completion, it was determined that 2 million vehicles crossed the bridge annually. Today, that number has reached 12 million vehicles annually, with roughly 40,000 traveling the bridge every day. Though impressive numbers, this makes safety a huge concern.
About $100 million will be spent in efforts to improve the bridge. Currently, the Causeway has no shoulders, which causes more rear-end accidents. Roughly $60 million has been dedicated to add six sections of over 1,000 ft of shoulder to each span of the bridge. Additionally, the guardrails on either span are insufficient, which has resulted in more than 17 cars going over the rails and into the lake. Roughly $40 million has been dedicated to raising the guardrail to a safer 46 inches (from 25 in. on the southbound span and 31 in. on the northbound span).
The completed projects will undoubtedly bring more safety to commuters, but the workers' safety has not been forgotten. Careful planning has been done to ensure worker safety, despite the limited construction area, surrounding lake, and weather conditions typical of Louisiana. As huge advocates of civilian and worker safety, we'll definitely be following this project.
For more information on the projects, check out ENR Texas & Louisiana.
For Causeway Bridge information, check out their website.