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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- The Highway 90 bridge over Rigolets Pass links southern St. Tammany parish to New Orleans East.

The span opened in 2008 with a price tag of about $50 million.

Documents obtained by Eyewitness News show more than $8.7 million worth of toll credits, derived from the Crescent City Connection in New Orleans helped cover the cost of the new bridge.

'Using toll credits to help fund the project for the Rigolets I think is improper,' said state Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero.

Connick is a frequent CCC toll critic. He asked the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for an explanation.

'By statute, anything connected to the Crescent City Connection bridge must be used on the West Bank or on the bridge in the footprint of the CCCD,' said Connick.

But, DOTD draws a legal distinction between toll revenue and toll credits.

Department Chief of Staff Shawn Wilson says the CCC earned federal credits for projects that were eligible for federal dollars, but were paid for with toll money.

'The federal government allows toll credits or will accept toll credits on any project in the state that's federal aid eligible,' said Wilson. 'It basically prevents us from having to come up with a 20 percent or a 10 percent match for a federal project.

While not saying that past practices were wrong, the current administration at DOTD has shied away from using CCC toll credits on other projects around the state.

Case in point, DOTD rejected a request three years ago to use toll credits to help fund the purchase of new public buses in Jefferson Parish.

'Our approach is, both toll revenue and toll credits are going to be reserved to be used in that vicinity of the bridge,' said Wilson.

Connick still wants to know if any other projects around the state were leveraged using CCC toll credits.

If so, he would like the credits returned and applied projects on the bridge or expressways leading up to the CCC.

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