In The News › “High-speed” ferries considered, but bridge tolls must float first

Jan 25, 2011

Source: Fox 8

Filed under: Infrastructure, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish

“High-speed” ferries considered, but bridge tolls must float first

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
By Rob Masson
Fox 8

A committee of the New Orleans City Council approved a resolution Tuesday calling for an extension of tolls on the Crescent City Connection set to expire next year.

The plan calls for a complete revamp of the ferry system to speed travelers from, perhaps, as far as Kenner to Chalmette at up to 30 miles per hour.

If nothing is done by the end of next year, the three ferries that operate in the New Orleans area could become the latest victims of the rebuilding effort following Hurricane Katrina

“It’s like everything else, you don’t miss it until it’s gone,” said City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

The ferries, which cost $8 million a year to operate, are expected to be discontinued if the legislature allows tolls on the Crescent City Connection to expire at the end of 2012.

“No one is even looking at alternatives,” said Fay Ferren, with the group Friends of the Ferry.

Her group proposed purchasing two new high-speed ferries, capable of speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Similar ferries were recently built and sent to Cozumel, Mexico, from Mid Ship Marine in Marrero. The current ferries travel at about four miles per hour.

Ferren says new ferries could connect passengers anywhere from Chalmette to Rivertown in Kenner, and she believes the system can only happen if tolls are extended.

“Everyone in the region wants to make this happen. We’ve got regional planning, and that’s what’s going to make this happen,” Ferren said.

The proposal got an early thumbs up from the city council’s transportation committee.

“I do think we have to look at it. A viable option is not to lose our ferries,” said committee Chairwoman Kristen Gisleson Palmer.

The proposal sounds good to some. Officials would sell off old ferries and buy new ones to speed the cross river trip, but extending bridge tolls is a thorny issue.

Toll opponents, like state Representative Pat Connick, R-Harvey, say they are against any extension of the tolls on the backs of West Bank commuters. Connick adds the Crescent City Connection has mismanaged for years.

The Friends of the Ferry would like to use the toll money to keep one old ferry, and add two more.

“If the tolls aren’t extended, we have to start from square one,” Ferren said. And that may just happen, because for now no one has stepped up in the legislature to propose extending tolls in a tough economy.

Connick says the Bureau of Governmental Research has agreed to study the toll extension issue and issue a report in time for the regular session of the legislature, which begins in March.

Jan 25, 2011

Source: Fox 8

Filed under: Infrastructure, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish

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