NEWORLEANS - Anyone who owns a boat knows about repair headaches. The fleet of local passenger ferries crossing the Mississippi River is no exception, especially the Colonel Frank Armiger.
The ferry underwent emergency repairs in February 2010, yet remains out of commission because of continuing mechanical problems.
'So all the repairs were for naught,' said State Representative Pat Connick.
Although $580,000 was spent on emergency repairs, shortly after they restarted the engines, they broke.
'They don't work. I think I was told the generators were too big,' Connick said.
Documents obtained by Channel 4 show a sequence of events that began when the ferry's engine room began taking on water. Diagnosed with major mechanical problems, an emergency overhaul was ordered.
Now Connick is trying to understand why this emergency has extended over nearly two years and more than half a million dollars.
'The fact that it took 10 months to repair shows that it wasn't an emergency. The fact that it's still not in operation since February 2010 shows that it wasn't an emergency,' he said.
Records show that the repairs were ordered by a state engineer assigned to the Crescent City Connection Division. Records also show that the employee - Odigwe Mokogwu - was fired, in part, because he violated state law in arranging the work without competitive bidding.
'There was no contract for the repair work. There was no bidding on the job. It was just given to a shipyard without following the law,' Connick said.
Mokogwu was contacted over the phone. He said Armiger's breakdown fit the state guidelines for an emergency and the repairs were approved by his superiors. He is now fighting a civil service appeal to get his job back.
But Connick sees a bigger problem here. As one of the legislature's most vocal critics of the Crescent City Connection Division, he questions why bridge tolls help subsidize ferry repairs in the first place.
'We have paid money for this service, but it appears our money is not being properly spent. When it is spent, it's spent on repairs that aren't working. Something's not right there and it's time for it to change,' he said.
In the meantime, the Armiger sits in dry dock with no date to return to service.
'I think boondoggle is a proper term. And incompetent. It's just wrong,' Connick said.