NEW ORLEANS -- The fate of the tolls on the Crescent City Connection will be in the hands of voters in Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes this weekend -- again.
A day before the election, Stop the Tolls, a very vocal opposition group, will make an appeal to keep the tolls from going back on the bridge. The group is determined to convince voters that the tolls are unfair and unnecessary.
“This whole thing is about getting our fair share from Baton Rouge,” said Mike Teachworth, director of Stop the Tolls. “Our economy and our city here, we need to keep money in people’s pockets, and that’s what I think will happen when the tolls go away.”
Even after the November election in which the renewal narrowly passed, Stop the Tolls continued the push to have the tolls taken off the Crescent City Connection.
In March, a judge threw out a November election that renewed the tolls for another 20 years, after Teachworth successfully argued that some voters had been denied the right to vote on the renewal. The tolls have been suspended since the decision. Saturday, voters will return to the polls to vote on the toll.
“We’re hopeful,” said Teachworth. “We’re seeing a lot of momentum. We’re a lot better organized than we were last time in November.”
Teachworth said a positive impact from the suspension of the polls is already visible for West Bank residents, as so far, $4 million has been saved since the suspension.
The press conference is also expected to have prominent leaders -- Jefferson Parish President John Young, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and state Treasurer John Kennedy -- who will speak in support of dumping the tolls. It is scheduled to take place at 11:30 a.m. at the Red Maple Restaurant in Gretna.
Teachworth said he never expected the group of regular citizens without political expertise to be so successful.
The heart of Teachworth’s philosophical argument against the tolls centers on several points: While ten other bridges cross the Mississippi River in Louisiana, the Crescent City Connection is the only bridge with a toll, only about 20 cents of every dollar collected for the toll goes to the CCC and over $400 million has been paid in tolls in the past 20 years. All equaling to what Teachworth believes is an unfair tax.