BATONROUGE -- More than one million Crescent City Connection toll violations remain uncollected and unprocessed, according to a hard-hitting report released today by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
The audit found several other shortcomings in toll collection on the state's busiest bridge, including failure to charge GeauxPass toll tag holders when they had insufficient funds in their account.
The state Department of Transportation agreed with nearly all of the findings and presented an action plan to correct deficiencies. The proposed changes, however, may not be needed if tolls on the bridge aren't renewed when the controversial issue is put to the voters of Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes on May 4.
Here is a summary of the state audit and the DOTD's responses:
- From 2008, when the program started, through May 2012, GeauxPass holders were not charged for violations when they had insufficient funds in their account. The state admitted that a faulty collection system automatically changed toll tag holders' status to 'invalid' when they didn't keep enough money in their account, but the system was unable to send violation notices to any 'invalid' accounts. The state said the glitch was corrected in May.
- The state did not collect money from more than one million violators whose license plates were captured by video cameras. The state conceded it is behind in notifications, but stated it is trying to work with outside contractors to catch up.
- Delinquency notices were not sent to more 200,000 toll violators as required by law. The DOTD responded that it sent initial violation notices, but admitted it never followed up with delinquent notices. The DOTD stated that it has turned over the violations to the state Attorney General's office for notification and collection.
- Violations involving vehicles out-of-state license plates remain uncollected. The state blamed the fact that it does not have reciprocal agreements with Texas and Mississippi, the two states that log the most violations. DOTD wrote that it did enter into agreements with those states last year and is seeking agreements with other states. 'DOTD is identifying a path with other States to access their license plate data,' the agency wrote.
DOTD spokesperson Bambi Hall issued the following statement Monday afternoon.
'The state's tolling system is now functional, meets industry standards and is able to access violator information. Current collection rates were now well above the national average of 95 percent.
DOTD has hired a contractor to assist with reviewing unprocessed violation images from past years in order to ensure collection rates stay high and will also utilize employees who no longer need to collect tolls to assist in this process. Last fall, DOTD obtained agreements with the states of Mississippi and Texas to gain access to information on drivers who have violated the toll system residing in those states. DOTD is actively pursuing past violators.'