Published: Jan. 12, 2011, NOLA.COM Matt Scallan, The Times-Picayune
The Reserve-Edgard ferry, which has been closed for more than three years, will resume service on Monday, St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom told the Parish Council Tuesday night.
Edgard-Reserve ferry, which has been closed for three years, will resume operations next week.
The resumption of service won't be affected by the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday.
"I hope to ride the ferry over to the ceremony," Robottom said, referring to the commemoration event in front of the Parish Courthouse in Edgard.
The ferry's daily service will begin at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, leaving from Reserve, with the final run departing Edgard at 8:45 p.m.
The ferry's shutdown in June 2007 has caused a 35 to 40 minute detour to the Veterans Memorial Bridge between Gramercy and Wallace, causing a hardship for residents who don't have access to a vehicle.
The ferry stopped running in June 2007, initially because of levee repairs and later because of a land dispute with the Archdiocese of New Orleans over the land for the landing, and later by a shortage of crew members.
The ferry survived an attempt to cut the service by the Jindal administration, which later changed its mind, but the delays dragged on.
But to Edgard residents like Lillie Mae Johnson, the ferry was a lifeline to her husband's job and shopping not available in the sparsely populated community of Edgard.
"I would drive my husband to the ferry landing and his boss would be waiting to pick him up on the other side," she said. "You could go over there and pay your light bill."
Gene Augusta, who is unable to drive, said he has had to depend on friends to take him over the Gramercy-Wallace Bridge, to do his shopping.
"Before, you could take a bicycle and get to some of the stores, and get to the drug store," he said. "I really would like to see it come back.
Even those with cars are ready to see the ferry return.
"It's just quicker," said Darrel Lumar, an insurance agent. "It takes you an extra 35 minutes to go around, and gas isn't cheap."
Neither is the 17-car ferry, as far as the state is concerned.
A state streamlining commission recommended that the Melville, White Castle and Edgard Reserve ferry, which together cost about $3 million annually to operate. The three ferries generated only about $30,500 a year in vehicle tolls, which are $1 per car per trip according to state figures.
The fee for the ride would have to be raised to $25, the commission said.
The lack of service also makes it tougher for people on the east bank who are summoned for jury duty at the parish courthouse, is at the foot of the ferry landing.
"It helps an awful lot of people, and they've been waiting a long time for it," said Councilman Haston Lewis said.