Surplus funds to maintain enhanced services for CCC - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Surplus funds to maintain enhanced services for Crescent City Connection

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Photo by Jessica Holly Photo by Jessica Holly

Metairie, La. - The Regional Planning Commission hopes to buy some time for the Crescent City Connection as we know it.

The suspension of bridge tolls could one day mean no more lights, landscaping maintenance or trash can service for the Crescent City Connection. The State Department of Transportation and Development explained to the Regional Planning Commission that, on the state's watch, many services on the CCC will be reduced and others will go away.

Jefferson Parish President John young proposed using toll surplus money to maintain the enhanced services on the CCC for the time being. "There's money, about $5.2 million in a transition fund that is going to be used for these services, so we can transition," said Young.

"I object and I want to go on the record," said New Orleans City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson.

She calls the plan "bad government."

"We're setting ourselves up to fail," Clarkson said. "We're using transition funds, surplus funds to make it look like everything is going to be okay without tolls. Look, we have light. Look, we have maintenance. Look, we have trash pick-up... and it's not so."

Clarkson says she believes the only solution is to pass the tolls and make sure the money is used responsibly.

After a back-and-forth exchange between Young and Clarkson, the commission took a vote. In the end, the RPC voted in favor of the plan, with support from a reluctant Jackie Clarkson. Transition funds will maintain the current level of services, minus the decorative lighting. There are enough funds to last about three years.

Young says that buys time to push for the state to foot the entire bill. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is an economic engine, not only for this region but for the state of Louisiana.  And the state of Louisiana needs to step up to the plate and comply with its legal obligations under the law," said Young. "The state legislature can also pass legislation that says they pay for the lighting and any increased landscaping if that's what we want to do."

Of course, all of this could change with the outcome of the second toll vote, set for May 4.

Meanwhile, Jefferson Parish Councilmen Chris Roberts and Elton Lagasse plan to take action Wednesday to ask state lawmakers to cancel the May 4 vote.  In an email to lawmakers they wrote, "The only way to determine the ability of the state to meet its obligation is to allow the bridge to run without a dedicated revenue source."

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