Causeway cracking down at toll plaza

Commuters who change lanes at the last minute or use toll-tag lanes without a proper tag at the entrance to the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway will face increased scrutiny starting Monday.

Bridge General Manager Carlton Dufrechou sent an email to tag-holders telling them the police presence will be beefed up at the Mandeville toll plaza to crack down on bad drivers.

In the past, motorists who used tag lanes without a proper tag or no tag at all during peak hours were allowed to pay cash and continue onto the bridge, Dufrechou said.

Forcing them to come back through the plaza in the proper lane means stopping traffic so the offending motorist can be rerouted.

Starting Monday, that’s what violators will have to do.

“The first thing that we’ll do is turn them around. Let’s get everybody to do the right thing,” Dufrechou said.

Drivers who switch lanes at the last minute could cause an accident resulting in a backup on approach roads, especially in the peak morning commute hours.

Police will issue citations if necessary, Dufrechou said. “They (police) will be out of the vehicles and will be watching.”

About 50,000 vehicles have toll tags, which give motorists a discounted rate and allow them to move through the toll plaza on the lake’s north shore slowly without coming to a stop. Around 64 percent of the vehicles passing through the toll plaza each morning have toll tags.