Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

I’m planing a trip to the Big Easy, and meeting friends and family. Any and all bits of advice are welcome and encouraged.

But one factual point I find my google-flu is weak - can you u-turn on the Lake Pontchartrain causeway? Sure, it looks to be physically possible, but is it legal? I’ve driven across it back in the day (think 1976 or so, and on the way to the airport, so things have changed, no doubt*), and it’s fun to look around and not see land anywhere. I’d like to share it with others. But driving all the way across and then turning around might put a few off the idea. If there was a shortcut, the others might want to share the experience.

As noted, advice is welcome, but I do believe we’re covered on housing, transportation, and, best of all, food & drink. Well, there’s also music. I like blues and brassy, my sister likes piano.

Golly, maybe this should have been in IMHO. I’ll not be offended if it’s moved. But I’d like to know for a fact if I can U-turn on the causeway without a ticket. After that, do as you will.

*That’s not my only trip to NoLA, but all the others started at the airport. It was my only trip over the lake. Yes, I was impressed.

It only looks possible if you find it acceptable to drive the wrong way on a one way road–the two directions look like they are separated by water. Look at Google Maps, satellite view:

Actually if you zoom in a little you can see at least seven crossover spans. Street view suggests that they’d be easy turn around points assuming you’re allowed to do that in a non-emergency. Better check if you’re allowed first, because street view also shows that cop cars like to hang out in many of them :wink:

Interstate highways always have crossover lanes, but as a rule, they are signposted for emergency vehicles only, and it is illegal to make U-turns in them. That’s is one of the criteria for a “limited access” highway – other traffic cannot enter traffic lanes except at high-speed ramps.
Of course, the causeway is not a part of the interstate system, so is not bound to comply with the mandated standards for interstates.

Right, and also the crossovers don’t appear to be marked for emergency vehicles only. The only signage I can see for each one is a green sign with an arrow saying “crossover”. I’m kind of curious now, because I’d sort of assume if they didn’t want you to U-turn in normal driving they’d explicitly state it. But it’s an awfully sharp corner for a 65mph road, so I also doubt they want people stopping unexpectedly in the high speed lanes to make it!

The webpage of the bridge authority suggests that the main purpose of the crossovers is as a stopping point for breakdowns.

The signage on Google Street View is merely “Crossover”, nothing indicating no U-turn. Looks good.

They even have “Wrong Way” signs on the other side in case you forget to fully turn.

Billy threw Sherry/s wedding band into the lake from the causeway but he was broke down

Billy? Billy Jo McAllister? I hear that boy’s always throwin’ something off’n a bridge somewhere.

They are quite wide compared to the crossovers I see. In fact one of them on Google has two cars parked and the drivers are out looking at a cell phone. I Like the lookouts off to the outside. Wonder what they are, they do not all coincide with a crossover.

Given the fact that you are already stopped in one, I can’t see any difference in which lane you leave by. And a minor emergency might be best handled by driving to the nearest end. You can rotate this view to see a lookout.


I am quite sure that it is illegal to u-turn in the Causeway bridge. Emergencies only. For music to to Maple Leaf Bar or Snug Harbor. House of Blues or BB Kings club.

I am local to this bridge.
The crossovers are for emergency use only.
There is a toll from the North shore to the South shore, no toll from South to North. The bridge is primarily a commuter road and they figure they already have your money when it is time to go home.

There is a dedicated causeway police force. The bridge is heavily monitored with cameras, so while you physically can make a U turn at the crossovers, they may well be waiting for you at the end. What they are used for is emergency stops. Emergencies range from car trouble to spilling coffee. That is what the crossovers are really for and that is OK. But when you are ready, it is best to continue on your way.

I can’t find any source that says a U-turn is illegal, but I have never heard anyone doing so absent an emergency. I assume it is illegal, but am not sure. I guess you can define anything as an emergency, but it would be pushing it.

Besides, why again? You are out of sight of land (it is a pretty cool experience) only in the middle few miles. If someone gets nervous out in the middle, they are going to be nervous even after they turn around. My wife doesn’t enjoy the experience, she is not a water person, but the quickest way to solve that problem is to keep going.

Well, obviously the Google Street View car used the crossovers.

The signs (at #4 at least) just say “emergency stopping only” and “any vehicle left unattended will be towed” (and “crossover” and “crossover No 4”). Under the principle of “the exception that proves the rule”, I posit that this implies other uses are legitimate: a U-turn is not a stop and doesn’t involve leaving the vehicle. Nowhere does it say anything like “emergency use only” or “no U-turns”.

I think the idea is that getting to the middle would be fun…but that driving 20+ miles to the end and then having to turn around and go 20+ more miles back, or else returning via a very long detour around the lake, is more trouble and more time than the experience is worth.

That is: Drive 16-20 miles (8-10 out, 8-10 back), that’s fine; drive 50, maybe not.

I have been in New Orleans twice and considered driving across the causeway both times, and ultimately didn;t either time for several reasons, but the above paragraph is the main one. Maybe someday–

**Ulf the Unwashed ** has it right - the idea was to go about half way across, then back.

I know that New Orleans has a lot to offer that’s more exciting than to driving on a bridge, but we will be there a week, and how many times do you get to say ‘I drove clean out of sight of land’ and ‘longest bridge in the world’. It’s an impressive piece of engineering, and some I’ll be with will appreciate it. It’s a low priority item on the list, and we may still, but I’ll take rbroome’s advice, and it will just take a bit longer.

Besides, I’ll be driving the whole thing anyway. While almost everyone else is flying in, I’m driving down, and on the return trip, I’ll add a side trip to the crossroads in Clarksdale, MS, so I will be departing to the north (I’ll arrive from the east, on I10). But, as I noted in the OP, I’ve done it (it was years ago). For everyone else, it will be their first trip.