St. John The Baptist Parish News Release

Urgent Call to Action: Reserve/Edgard Ferry to Close July 1, 2013: Residents and business leaders urged to contact state delegation

Urgent Call to Action:  Reserve/Edgard Ferry to Close July 1, 2013: Residents and business leaders urged to contact state delegation

Saturday, May 25, 2013 The 2013 Legislative Session is scheduled to end on June 6 and funding for the Reserve/Edgard Ferry remains cut from the 2013-2014 budget. Parish President Robottom and her staff have met with representatives from DOTD, the Regional Planning Commission and Representatives and Senators for St. John Parish to no avail. A number of recommendations and alternatives have been provided for consideration, but ferry services remain on the chopping block for July 1, 2013. There are only nine days remaining in this legislative session and it is critical that residents, business and industry leaders and other elected officials contact our delegation immediately for help. With the devastation of Hurricane Isaac and the flooding of over 7,000 homes in the Parish, many of our residents are housed on the West Bank and the Reserve/Edgard ferry is needed now more than ever. As St. John Parish focuses on disaster recovery, it is not in a position to provide or maintain ferry services as proposed by the DOTD. In addition to the extra financial burden placed on our residents, fifiteen ferry employees will lose their jobs if services are cut from state's budget. The impact of this closure goes far beyond the loss of jobs and affects the entire community. Many of the residents impacted by the ferry closure are elderly and low income who need access to vital services located on the East Bank of the Missississippi River. Also, with almost all medical facilities and services in St. John the Baptist Parish located on the East Bank, the ferry provides critical transportation for West Bank residents to access necessary health-care services. Additionally, the court system is housed on the West Bank and court functions will be reduced without ferry service. Parish officials and many of its residents are in support of increasing the fare to ride the ferry to offset some of the $2 million operational costs. With approximately 193,000 vehicles using the Edgard/Reserve ferry in 2012, the current roundtrip fare of $1 is absurd. The cost of gas ranges between $3.20 and $3.50 per gallon and the average cost for a roundtrip using the Veterans Memorial Bridge is approximately $10.00. There is clearly room to increase the fare and maintain funding of the ferry, considering the amount of taxes provided to the state's budget by business and industry within the River Parishes. In 2012, St. John the Baptist Parish participated in a road swap program to maintain ferry services and has made the same proposal this year. We have also offered to assist with funding a clerk to collect fares on the ferry; however, representatives of the Department of Transportation and Development have declined these options. Please urge your Senators and Representatives to work together to restore funding for the Reserve/Edgard ferry to the 2013/2014 state budget. Contact information fwho our local delegation is listed below. Senator Troy Brown Legislative Assistant Kim Patterson 985/369-3333 District Office 225/342-2040 Capitol Office 225/933-9610 Mobile Senator Gary Smith Legislative Assistant, Greta Nassar 985/764-9122 District Office 225/342-2040 Capitol Office 504/908-2037 Mobile Representative Randal Gaines 985/652-1228 Office 504/487-9904 Mobile Representative Clay Schexnayder 225/473-6016 Office 225/313-8724 Mobile Representative Greg Miller 985/764-9991 Office 504/400-0722 Mobile ###