N.O. council members pushing for answers over future of ferries

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 28 at 7:21 PM

Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS - For Chris Thomasson, it's an affordable and healthy way to commute.

Thomasson, who lives off Esplanade Avenue, bikes to his job in Harvey via the Algiers / Canal Street ferry.

"I do own a car, but since November, I've put $10 of gas in my car," he said.

For commuters and others who simply enjoy the easy access between Algiers and the French Quarter, concerns are growing over the service's future.

For now, the only guarantee is that the ferries will run through July. That’s when funding runs dry.

Last year, state lawmakers passed a measure that prohibits the use of Crescent City Connection toll money to operate ferry services.

"We're aware of it. I'm confident we can find something," said Michael Stack with DOTD. “Everything is on the table.”

Stack faced the city council transportation committee Thursday, as members continued the push for answers.

"(The ferries are) going to make us stronger as a region, not just within our connectivity, but also within allowing, improving our economic development on both sides of the river -- from the port, from oil and gas, and that's something we all have to remember if we wanna get stronger as a region," said District C Councilwoman Kristin Palmer.

Stack said, at this point, he can't commit to any plan, because negotiations are ongoing.

The Regional Planning Commission is studying the issue and while efforts to privatize the services didn't gain traction several months ago, some are hopeful that could still be a possibility.

Stack said “passionate people” are working toward solutions.

"Everyone from local citizens to public officials, myself, the regional planning commission -- the New Orleans people understand the importance of the ferries," he said.

DOTD officials have said the Chalmette ferry will continue to operate within the state transportation system.

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