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Another accident underscores need for repairs to LA bridge

A Louisiana causeway is in desperate need of updated safety features. While the numerous car accidents on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway may begin ordinarily enough, many of them have ended with a car plunging into the water below the bridge.

After a May 23, 2013 accident that sent a driver traveling southbound vaulting off of the causeway after a collision, Louisiana officials are actively seeking federal money to remedy the problem.

The structural design of the causeway was built to 1956 safety standards which are now outdated. As a result the southbound lane of the bridge has become a major hazard for drivers. This southbound portion of the bridge has been the sight of at least nine recent accidents that involved vehicles rolling off of the bridge.

However, heightening and improving the south side guardrail comes with the hefty price tag of $28 million. Officials want to do more than just bring the barrier up to code. Beyond fixing the height of the bridge railing, additional safety improvements are needed. If the state receives all of the federal grant money it is now seeking, almost $40 million will go towards upgrading emergency call boxes, adding message boards and provided other much needed improvements.

This project has broad support. Both Louisiana Senators sent letters of support to the Department of Transportation, which will decide whether to award the grant money. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program has over $400 million in federal money to allocate to projects such as this one.

Because car accidents can wreck the lives of those involved, Louisianans need to remember to driver carefully, especially when traveling over a bridge that is out of date. While the government plays a role in ensuring that people travel over bridges safely, it is not the government's sole responsibility to do so. Mounting medical expenses and lost wages can result in financial ruin for accident victims, including those hurt while crossing a bridge. An attorney can protect a victim's rights against an insurance company and get the compensation that is deserved.

Source: Nola, "Hoping to keep vehicles on the roadway, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway wants to improve bridge railings," Robert Rhoden, June 14, 2013

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