Opponents say fight is not over regarding CCC tolls - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Opponents say fight is not over regarding CCC tolls

New Orleans, La. — A recount of votes cast on a referendum deciding the fate of tolls on the Crescent City Connection Bridge has not changed the outcome. Tolls will continue on the bridge unless a court says otherwise.

"As many times as we have crossed that bridge we have paid for that bridge over and over again," said one motorist.

But another is happy the tolls are staying put because of her concern for the jobs of toll takers. "I mean it's a good idea so they don't lose their jobs, that's all I can say right now," the driver stated.

In November 2012, a referendum to keep the tolls place for another 20 years passed by an 18-vote margin when mail ballots were counted.  But opponents did not accept that outcome. Mike Teachworth, founder of the group Stop the Tolls, filed a lawsuit to force a recount of the mail ballots.

The recount this past weekend was overseen by the registrar of Terrebonne Parish and Tuesday, a judge revealed the results which showed the 18-vote margin for passage from November had doubled to 36.

"It's just 18 votes in the opposite direction of what we wanted it to be," said Patrick Hand, an attorney for Stop the Tolls.

Elections officials said 308,000 votes were cast for the November 6 election and close to 4,000 involved paper ballots.

"I knew the number was going to be different just because of the way the vote or the count was handled in the beginning," Hand said.

In the weeks leading up to the election, supporters of keeping the tolls, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Sheriff Newell Normand, argued that if the upkeep of the bridge was solely dependent on state funds then the bridge would certainly fall into disrepair.

Hand said, despite the new vote count, opponents will press on.  "This is the beginning of this fight we're going to go full steam ahead with phase two of this petition which is our argument for nullifications," he said.

The trial on the lawsuit which aims to have the election results tossed out is set for March 4.

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