The Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission—commonly called the Causeway Commission—on Wednesday kicked off a design competition for improvements to the nearly six-decade-old Causeway Bridge over Lake Pontchartrain.
The Commission is 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. The shoulders would provide areas where stalled or crashed vehicles could be moved out of the lanes of traffic.
The four firms competing are AECOM, Modjeski and Masters, Volkert and Design Engineering Inc., and each has been given a set of specifications to work with. The firms were told to work with a potential price in the neighborhood of $50 million and to show how construction could happen with as little impact on traffic as possible.
The firms will present their designs to the Causeway Commission staff in September. One company then will be selected to do the full design on the project. Actual construction remains about a year away. Each of the firms will get a $20,000 stipend for competing.
The segmented shoulders are the first of two major safety upgrades planned for the bridge. The second will be adding steel rails on top of the concrete guardrails on at least the southbound span, where the concrete railing is 6 in. lower than on the newer northbound bridge.
Since 1994, all but one of more than a dozen crashes in which a vehicle has gone off the bridge into the lake have happened on the southbound span, most of which have resulted in fatalities.
Source: The New Orleans Advocate