State is urged to keep lights on atop the CCC

Updated: May. 21, 2012 at 2:06 PM CDT
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New Orleans, La. - The Young Leadership Council (YLC) is urging the state keep the lights on atop the Crescent City Connection. With tolls scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, the YLC worries that the CCC will be dark without a permanent funding source.

The YLC put the lights on the CCC in 1987 as the result of its first major capital fundraising campaign. In exchange, YLC says there was an understanding that the state would fund all aspects of the decorative lighting on the CCC.  All of this occurred before tolls were in place, and the YLC contends that the decorative lights should remain on irrespective of what happend with the tolls.

When tolls were added to the CCC a few years after the lights, revenues from the toll collections became the primary but not exclusive funding source for the Bridge lights, and that remains the case today.

"Many great cities in the world have an iconic structure in its skyline. Paris has the Eiffel Tower. New York has the Statue of Liberty. San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. As young people looking to make a positive impact on the perception of New Orleans both locally and nationally, we committed to lighting the bridge," said Chris Johnsen, president of the YLC in 1987 and the primary force behind the project back then.

"How does a city ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the world's biggest brain magnets and included in the Brooking's Institute recent study as one of the strongest-performing metro areas in the nation pull the plug on itself, literally," says Joseph Giarrusso, immediate past president of the YLC. "The post-Katrina culture in New Orleans centers around growth and innovation. Removing an iconic image from the skyline contradicts those principles."

Over the weekend the YLC, with the help of over 2,000 members, launched a social media campaign to raise awareness and gather support to keep the bridge lights operating.  The YLC is planning television and radio ads in the days ahead.