YLC hopes to keep CCC lights shining; lawmakers weigh in - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

YLC hopes to keep CCC lights shining; lawmakers weigh in

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New Orleans, La. — The effort to keep the ornamental lights shining on the Crescent City Connection bridge continues as one civic group scrambles to find a temporary financial solution.

After a recent judge's ruling resulted in the suspension of bridge tolls and a new election to determine whether they are re-instated, an official with the state Department of Transportation and Development said this week that the decorative lights atop the bridge would be turned off Friday night.

And now the Young Leadership Council of New Orleans which raised $500,000 to pay for the lights almost three decades ago is trying to find a way to keep the lights on especially as thousands of entrepreneurs head to town this weekend for an event put on by the Idea Village.

"National investors and business CEO's who are coming to town... and when they come to New Orleans and we're in that national spotlight, we want to make sure we're putting our best foot forward and that includes having our bridge lit," said Richard Pavlick, president of the YLC.

Pavlick said the YLC is reaching out to other organizations and private entities in hopes of keeping the lights on, at least in the short term. "Asking them to come together and make sure that the lights don't go off tomorrow and we've also talked with the DOTD," he said.

"I don't want to mislead the people that we're going to keep depending on the private sector to light a bridge.  That's absurd," said City Councilwoman-at-Large Jackie Clarkson.

Clarkson resides on the west bank of New Orleans and crosses the bridge daily.  "We're losing additional protective lighting at a time when we need it," she said.

The YLC said it had an understanding with the state in 1987 that called for the state to keep the lights operating permanently.  At the time, there was no toll revenue.  "And in return the state said we'll keep the lights on moving forward," Pavlick stated.

The YLC is urging the state to keep the lights on, but even state lawmakers from this area concede that will be a tough sell.

"The question just becomes, does this delegation as a whole have the ability to lobby for that and be successful in that, when we have so many other things that are necessities in our region?" said Senator J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans.

Because of the judge's decision to throw out the November election results -- which had renewed the tolls for 20 years -- voters will reconsider the renewal proposition on May 4.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Clarkson said the state's promise to maintain the bridge the same way it maintains other bridges is not good enough.

"We are not trying to be like every other bridge in Louisiana. We are trying to be like San Francisco, and New York in economic development and especially port trade.  That's absurd," Clarkson said.

Getting help from the legislature will take a lot of arm twisting.  "I just don't know how viable that fight's going to be as far as the lighting," said Morrell.

A spokeswoman for DOTD told FOX 8 News that, as it stands now, the lights will go dark Friday.

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