The Unforgettable Lake Pontchartrain Causeway: A Bridge of Legends

It’s Terrifying, Even for Experienced Drivers

Even experienced drivers and motorists are scared to cross this bridge.

Would you believe that one of the most fearsome bridges in the world is right here in the United States? Welcome to the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana, the longest bridge over water globally. This incredible structure earned its reputation and a spot in the Guinness World Records in 1969. Even with its long history, it can still make even the most experienced drivers and motorists feel a little scared.

A Triumph Over the Lake

A view of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

New Orleans experienced rapid growth in the 1940s and 1950s, which created the need for a direct connection to the northern part of the city. However, Lake Pontchartrain posed a significant challenge for motorists traveling between the city and the north. To solve this issue, plans were set in motion to create a direct route across the lake to its northern shore.

In 1955, the Louisiana Bridge Company was established to embark on this monumental construction project. Completed in just 14 months, the first two-lane span of the causeway opened in 1956, spanning a total length of 23.86 miles. It was truly an engineering feat of epic proportions.

A Bridge of Legends

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is not just long; it also carries its fair share of legends. As motorists cross this behemoth bridge, they often find themselves in awe as they lose sight of land for a staggering eight-mile stretch. In fact, some people have even experienced a fear of the open water, causing them to freeze while driving. In those instances, the police step in to provide safety and guidance, ensuring everyone reaches their destination.

The bridge has also witnessed extraordinary events. There have been instances when babies were born on the causeway because their mothers couldn’t reach the hospital on the other side in time. And then there’s the incredible story of an airplane that ran out of fuel while flying over the lake but managed to land safely on the bridge. These anecdotes only add to the bridge’s mystique, making it an even more intriguing place to visit.

A Record-Breaking Legacy

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway made history once again. A decade after the completion of the first bridge, daily traffic surpassed 5,300 vehicles. To accommodate the increasing traffic, plans were enacted to expand the causeway by constructing a second two-lane span parallel to the original. In 1969, the second bridge was inaugurated, only slightly longer than its predecessor, with a separation of approximately 84 feet between them.

This expansion caught the attention of the Guinness Book of World Records, and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway was officially recognized as the longest bridge over water in the world. It maintained this prestigious title unchallenged until 2011.

The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in China became the longest bridge over water (aggregate).

In 2011, the newly completed Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in China emerged as a contender, exceeding the length of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. However, the criteria used by Guinness included aggregate structures, such as land bridges at the ends of the main bridge and an undersea tunnel. Devoted supporters of the causeway pointed out that these elements were not strictly “over water.”

To resolve the controversy, Guinness wisely decided to create two new categories. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway became the “longest bridge over water (continuous),” while the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge took the title of “longest bridge over water (aggregate).” Although the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has since surpassed the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway retains its crown as the world’s longest bridge continuously over water, more than 60 years after its initial completion.

Essential Information

The causeway crosses Lake Pontchartrain in southern Louisiana.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to cross this iconic bridge, here’s what you need to know. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway stretches across Lake Pontchartrain in southern Louisiana. It begins in the Metairie suburb of New Orleans and ends in Mandeville on the lake’s northern shores.

Tolls are collected only on the north shore for southbound traffic. For car travelers, the standard toll is $5 in cash or $3 for tags when using the electronic toll collection system. Additionally, at the 16.0-mile marker on the causeway, you’ll find a bascule drawbridge, allowing water traffic to pass beneath the bridge.

Discover the Wonder of Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

A mesmerizing view of Lake Pontchartrain

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is not simply a bridge; it is a legendary feat of engineering that continues to astound all who cross it. Whether you brave its expanse alone or with loved ones, this iconic structure promises an unforgettable journey. Prepare to be captivated as you traverse the waters of Lake Pontchartrain and immerse yourself in the rich history and enchanting allure of Louisiana’s greatest connection.


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