A Louisiana Senate panel has approved a bill that is
intended to ease congestion on the Greater New Orleans Mississippi River
bridges on U.S. 90.
The Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works
Committee amended a bill that originally called for increasing the per-axle fee
for toll tag users from 20 cents to 40 cents on the Crescent City Connection.
It also exempted drivers from paying tolls between midnight and 7 a.m.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Derrick Shepherd, D-Marrero,
amended the bill in committee to reduce the proposed toll-free period to the
peak drive hours of 7 to 9 a.m. Shepherd said he plans to clarify in the bill
that the exemption would be limited to weekdays.
Shepherd told The Times-Picayune the toll increase in
the original version of the bill was “a typo; I don’t know if it was a slip of
the tongue or a slip of the keyboard.”
The bill – SB97 – would decrease toll revenue on the bridges
by about $2.2 million annually, according to a fiscal analysis.
The amended version was sent to the Senate Revenue and
Fiscal Affairs Committee for further consideration.
A separate effort offered by Rep. Terrell Harris, D-Marrero,
would set up at least two automated toll booths on the bridges.
The bill – HB1284 – is in the House Transportation, Highways
and Public Works Committee.