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

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The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana was officially named the longest bridge over water in the world by Guinness World Records in 1969.

In 2011, a competing claim from China emerged, posing a threat to the nearly 24-mile bridge’s top position. However, the causeway refused to back down and stood its ground.

In the 1940s and 1950s, as New Orleans grew, reaching the northern part of the city became challenging. Whether people were going north from the city or traveling south towards New Orleans, they had to find a way around Lake Pontchartrain, which posed a significant barrier.

A direct route was needed to connect the east and west sides of the lake, so a plan was made to build a bridge across the center to the north shore. In 1955, the Louisiana Bridge Company was formed to carry out the construction. The first two-lane section of the causeway was completed in just 14 months and opened in 1956. It stretched for a total of 23.86 miles.

The bridge is extremely long, causing drivers to lose sight of land for eight miles. Some drivers have even experienced a false fear of being at sea, leading to them freezing on the bridge. In such cases, the police have assisted them in getting off the bridge. Additionally, there have been instances where babies were born on the bridge because their mothers couldn’t reach the hospital on the other side. Furthermore, an airplane once ran out of fuel over the lake but managed to safely land on the bridge.

Ten years after the first bridge was finished, more than 5,300 vehicles were using it every day.

A decision was taken to widen the causeway by constructing a new two-lane bridge next to the existing one. The additional bridge was completed in 1969, with a gap of approximately 84 feet from the original structure.

The second span was just slightly longer than the first, but it caught the Guinness Book of World Records’ attention. In 1955, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway was officially acknowledged as the world’s longest bridge over water. It held this record unchallenged until 2011.

In July 2011, Guinness declared that the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in China had become the longest bridge over water worldwide. Spanning a distance of 26.5 miles, it surpassed the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Nevertheless, supporters of the causeway were prompt to highlight that Guinness’ measurement criteria encompassed additional structures, such as land bridges and an undersea tunnel, which were not truly “over water.”

Guinness resolved the controversy by introducing two new categories. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway was named the “longest bridge over water (continuous),” and the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge was named the “longest bridge over water (aggregate).” Although the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge lost its title to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in October 2018, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway still holds the record as the world’s longest bridge continuously over water, even after more than 60 years since its original completion.

Photo: Giovanni Gagliardi

Know Before You Go

The Lake Pontchartrain causeway in southern Louisiana connects the Metairie suburb of New Orleans to Mandeville on the northern shores of the lake. Tolls are collected on the north shore for southbound traffic, with cars paying $5 in cash or $3 with electronic toll collection tags. At the 16.0-mile marker, there is a bascule drawbridge that allows water traffic to pass through.

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