About every two miles on the southbound Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, you will see little houses or sheds that jut out over the water. What are these used for?
Those little buildings you see on the southbound Causeway may look like miniature fishing camps similar to those that once lined Lake Pontchartrain's shoreline. But they serve a much different purpose, one that helps ensure the safety of the thousands of drivers who travel across the bridge each day. They help keep the power on.
According to Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou, the structures are utility vaults for the Causeway's power and fiber system. Nineteen of the vaults parallel the west side of the original bridge. (That original 23-mile bridge opened in 1956 and is today's southbound bridge. The northbound bridge was opened in 1969.)
Dufrechou said the utility vaults were constructed in 2000 and are made primarily of fiberglass and steel so they can withstand hurricanes, which they have done. Workers access the structures using a narrow catwalk from the bridge. The sheds hug the southbound side, Dufrechou said, because the fiber lines are suspended from that bridge. He added that the Causeway receives electrical power from both sides of the lake: Entergy from the south and Cleco from the north. In the event that power fails on one shore, the Causeway's systems automatically switch to power from the other shore, keeping electricity flowing for the entire span.