St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom said the parish will receive $1 million in funding through a Community Development Block Grant that will go toward operating the ferry.
Additionally, Robottom said the parish has been awarded $35 million in Hurricane Isaac funds, of which a portion will be used to operate the ferry. That amount, however, is not known at this time.
“These are interim measures that will allow the ferry to continue operating for at least one year,” Robottom said.
She added that during that period the parish will determine the actual cost of operating the service, the amount of revenue generated by a potential rate increase and the anticipated ridership. Also not known is the amount of the rate increase.
“The ferry must be able to sustain itself and generate funds to pay an operator,” she said.
The potential closing of the ferry has been simmering for the past year since the state Department of Transportation and Development announced plans to close several similar operations. Officials, however, were able to obtain two extensions by agreeing to take
over maintenance of portions of state highways located in the parish.
The current agreement was scheduled to expire July 31 but funding has been approved through Aug. 31.
Robottom said the parish is in negotiations with the River Parishes Transit Authority, the DOTD and Veolia Transportation to operate the ferry. Veolia is also in negotiations with the Regional Transit Authority about taking over ferry operations in New Orleans.
A private operator is also interested, Robottom said, but no agreements are in place.