February 07, 2013
Re: “Ferry services threatened by funding cuts,” Jan. 23.
A person interviewed for your article on the chaos now reigning in regard to funding for ferry services across the Mississippi River in the densely populated New Orleans area was quoted as saying of Louisiana’s transportation department (DOTD): “I just don’t think it’s in their skill set.” That’s strange, because there has been public ferry service across the river at these same locations for well nigh 100 years. These services used to be well within transportation officials’ skill sets.
What has happened is that some politicians fixated on current political dogma have played a cynical shell game on the ferry funding issue, suddenly and arbitrarily divorcing these services from their decades-old funding source, which was bridge tolls. My husband and I voted for the bridge tolls, and successfully encouraged some others to do so because we were able to correctly perceive that the ruse of “privatization” of ferry services which has rarely, if ever, worked any better than the idea of bridge and roadway privatization, was neither a sensible nor serious idea.
It is now time for the politicos influencing DOTD to come clean and reinstate and rededicate the relatively small portion of bridge tolls necessary to operate the ferry.
The public deserves to be spared the ugly prospect of the overwhelmed Crescent City Connection bridges being asked to absorb yet-more traffic. Logical transportation policy would dictate that ferry service be expanded in terms of both frequency and crossing points, such as Jackson Avenue, where there is a relatively new ferry terminal sitting idle.
Good practice would also dictate consistent cleaning and maintenance of existing terminals and letting the users, which include many tourists as well as natives seeking an accessible, timely way to experience being on the Mississippi, pay a buck each way. Will competent “skill sets” and logic carry the day, or will tunnel vision politics continue?
retired state caseworker