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Election 2012: Fate of Crescent City Connection tolls decided by 16 votes
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

A week after Election Day it appears that voters in the New Orleans area did indeed authorize tolls to continue to be collected on the Crescent City Connection.

Ballots in Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes included a question asking voters whether the collection of tolls to access the U.S. 90 crossing should be extended for 20 years. Toll collection on the nation’s fifth-busiest bridge was scheduled to end Dec. 31, 2012.

Cash tolls are $1 for motorists and $2.50 for most trucks. Toll-tag users pay 40 cents and $1, respectively. The tolls generate about $21 million annually.

In the hours following Election Day the margin separating victory and defeat was a scant eight votes out of more than 308,000 ballots cast in the three parishes – another 34,000 voters who cast ballots didn’t answer the question.

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, the margin doubled to 16 when election officials counted 32 military and overseas ballots to determine the final outcome. However, the close margin could still be challenged by opponents.

Leading up to Election Day toll supporters said the tolls are necessary to keep up with cost for maintaining the bridges.

Opponents said the tolls are an unfair tax. Specifically, it is a hardship for people who live or work on the West Bank.

State figures show that West Bank drivers accounted for about three times as much toll revenue as users from the east.

Critics also point out that the second span built in 1989 will be paid off by the end of the year, and they want the tolls removed as promised. In addition, they said that toll collection on the bridge creates traffic jams every day.

For more 2012 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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