In The News › Voters and Council want answers on CCC toll revenue

Voters and Council want answers on CCC toll revenue

By Melanie Hebert, Eyewitness News
June 13, 2012

It’s up to voters whether Crescent City Connection tolls will expire at the end of the year as planned. But many feel they don’t understand what services could be affected without toll revenue.

“If I am gonna vote ‘no’ I would want to know exactly what’s gonna be cut out,” said Westbank resident Luis Bustamante.

Andy Snapp explained, “I would say the majority of people probably don’t know too much about what the tolls actually go for, what the money goes towards.”

“If I had more information I think it would give me a clear cut answer on whether to renew them or not to renew them,” added Jennifer Davis.

Those voters aren’t alone, even the Jefferson Parish Council doesn’t know what to expect for the Westbank if the tolls aren’t renewed.

“We had DOTD at a recent council meeting. They told us that they couldn’t provide answers to any of our questions because the session was not yet over,” Councilman-At-Large Chris Roberts said. “So now that the session is over, DOTD knows what their budget is, they should be able to provide clear indication to us as to what services can be expected.”

Roberts said the issue isn’t just about funding bridge services like lighting and security, but the vote could effect the entire Westbank Expressway, including grass cutting and trash pickup.

“What evolved over the years is that the state picked up additional services that came out of the toll money that now are threatened to be lost if that revenue doesn’t exist,” Roberts said.

Roberts sponsored resolutions, which passed unanimously at the council meeting Wednesday, to identify potential costs and funding sources for those services that could be cut. Parish President John Young added he has requested a written plan from the state.

“If we don’t like what the state’s doing enough we should not let them just put that burden on local government,” Young said to the council.

The Bureau of Governmental Research, which opposes the tolls, maintains the state has heavily misused toll revenue and describes talk of cuts to services as fear mongering used to convince voters to keep the revenue coming.

“This is the largest most heavily abused bridge in the state, and the state is not going to let it fall to rack and ruin,” said BGR President and CEO Janet Howard. “It will pay for it like it does for all the other bridges out of the transportation trust fund.”

The Department of Transportation and Development admits there could be a reduction in services but tells WWLTV it is unclear how much or what services at this time.

Roberts has requested DOTD provide specific answers to Jefferson Parish by Aug. 8.

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