Louisiana bill would drop rush-hour bridge toll

| 6/5/2006

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.