Just a few months ago, the outlook for our Mississippi River bridge and ferries looked bleak. In February, a legislatively created citizen task force told of dire cutbacks to the operations and maintenance of the bridge and the potential elimination of the three ferries if the Crescent City Connection tolls were not renewed. But the task force report received little to no media coverage and it appeared that the decision had all but been made to allow the tolls expire.
Unwilling to accept that fate, Transport for NOLA partnered with others who believe in common sense financing for our critical transportation infrastructure. We petitioned, we pushed for fair and balanced media coverage, we raised public awareness, we demonstrated and we spoke up at critical legislative meetings. We’re thrilled to report that our efforts have paid off.
On Sunday, both the House and Senate voted for HB 1212, a bill that will put the toll extension out to a general election. Assuming that Governor Jindal does not veto the bill, voters from Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes will now have the opportunity to weigh in during the November election. As people learn more about what’s at stake, support for maintaining the tolls continues to grow.
HB 1212 is not the ideal bill. Most notably, even if voters do approve a toll extension, the legislation prohibits toll revenue from going to the ferries. Fortunately, our legislators also passed SB 599, a bill that will direct $4 million in toll surplus revenue to purchase new ferries for privatized service; other efforts are in the works allocate $5 million annually as a subsidy for this service.
So now the hard work of educating the voters must begin. The facts are the same – without the tolls, we will be dependent on the State to allocate scarce transportation funds through what has become a highly politicized decision-making process; with the tolls, we can provide a dedicated and sustainable funding source to ensure that the Crescent City Connection stays in good repair for years to come. Transport for NOLA will continue to provide you with up to date coverage and ways to get involved. In the meantime, we ask that you start talking to your friends and neighbors about what’s at stake.
The Crescent City Connection is the most heavily traveled bridge on the lower Mississippi River. Right now, there’s a toll in place – the money raised by the toll provides a sustainable funding source to operate and maintain the bridge in addition to three ferries (Canal – Algiers, Canal – Gretna, Chalmette – Lower Algiers). The ferries provide the only direct river crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists in the region.
A fierce debate is underway about the future of the bridge and ferries – at the heart of which lies the toll that provides more than three-quarters of the funding for the bridge and ferries’ operations and maintenance. Politics and tax philosophies have largely driven the volatile debate while considerations for protecting critical transportation infrastructure and moving motorists, transit riders, cyclists and pedestrians across the Mississippi River have been sidelined.
The toll is set to expire at the end of the year. If the State Legislature does not take action to reauthorize the toll during the current legislation, the consequences would be severe. Transport for NOLA supports smart tolls to sustain the operations and maintenance of our critical Mississippi River crossings - here’s why.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
The fate of the tolls and ferries is in the hands of our State Senators and Representatives. We need one of them to champion a bill during the current legislative session and to build support to get the tolls reauthorized. There are two easy ways you can help:
- Sign our online petition. And ask your friends and family to sign too.
- Email AND call your State Representative and Senator. Look up who they are with this handy search tool. Get their email and phone number from their website. Transport for NOLA put together this form letter and these talking points that you can use. Be sure to include / say your address so they know you live in their district!
FOR MORE INFO:
Want to learn more? We recommend the following reading:
WHO SUPPORTS THE TOLL:
- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
- Gretna Mayor Ronnie Harris
- New Orleans City Councilwoman-at-large Jackie Clarkson
- New Orleans District C City Councilwoman City Councilwoman Kristin Palmer
- New Orleans Chamber of Commerce
- Jefferson Business Council
- Greater New Orleans, Inc.
- Transport for NOLA
- Harvey Canal Industrial Association
- Jefferson Chamber of Commerce
- Algiers Neighborhood Presidents Council
- Algiers Economic Development Foundation
- Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry
- St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce
- Algiers Point Association
- Crescent City Connection Oversight Authority
- Friends of the Ferry