fot. formulanone, Flickr.com, licencja: CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

It is almost 40km long. Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge

The Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge crosses Lake Pontchartrain in southeastern Louisiana, United States. It consists of two strands, one of which is 38.35 km long. Today, it is one of the longest bridges in the world. Its immense length means that drivers cannot see land on either side for most of the way.

The bridge is often referred to as The Causeway. It is a structure that connects Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans) on the south with the city of Mandeville, located on the north bank. The Pontchartrain Causeway consists of two strands – the first was built in 1956; the second, parallel, in 1969. The bridge was designed by a team of engineers and the idea is credited to Ernest M. Loëb Jr. who began forming the bridge in 1948. Both strands are supported by more than 9,500 concrete piles. Each pile is 55 inches in diameter.

There is a toll to cross the bridge. Initially, a toll was levied for both one way and the other. To reduce the resulting traffic jams, it was decided that the toll would only be charged in one direction, but would amount to double the rate.

In 2005, the bridge was damaged due to Hurricane Katrina. Its technical condition, however, allowed emergency services to cross. Repair work carried out quickly allowed the crossing to be operational on 14 October 2005.

photo by Glenn, wikimedia.org, licence: CC BY 2.0

The Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for being the longest continuous stretch over water in the world. However, it has some shortcomings. The bridge has no shoulders or stopping places, which can make it difficult to conduct rescue operations in case of accidents. Another is the rather harsh environment. The structure is exposed to the negative effects of saltwater and thus requires constant maintenance. The age of the bridge is also problematic. The first strand is almost 70 years old, the second is 60 years old, so it is only a matter of time before the crossing is replaced by a new structure. For the time being, several thousand cars cross the bridge every day.

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