NEW ORLEANS - The decorative lights that outline the Crescent City Connection went dark last Friday night, but Representative Pat Connick said it's a political move more than a question of funding.
According to Connick, the tolls could have already funded the lights for several more years.
“We need government to stop the red tape, the bureaucracy and let's find a way to make it happen,” Rep. Connick said Monday.
He questions whether enough money is already going to the Regional Planning Commission to keep the decorative lights on the bridge for several more years.
Connick said he believes that the $11 million that is slated to fund capital projects isn't all locked in.
“My point is the money's there. Let's spend it. It was intended for the lights. It was intended for the grass/mowing/upkeep and let's spend it where it's needed,” he said.
According to a spokeswoman for DOTD, even though the money isn't committed to a handful of projects, like painting the bridge, state lawmakers like Connick would have to re-appropriate it for the money to be used to fund the lights.
The Regional Planning Commission Executive Director didn't respond to our requests for information in time for this report.
“Let's stop playing games. It's old-time politics at its best,” Connick said.
Meantime, the Young Leadership Council, which raised the funds to get the decorative lights on the bridge in the first place, is starting a Facebook campaign to gain support for putting the lights back on now, not waiting until their battle with the state over the obligation to pay the bill is settled.
Monday, questions also surfaced about how the lights on the Baton Rouge Mississippi River Bridge were funded. A young leadership group in Baton Rouge, called Forum 35, raised money to originally put them up.
The state then replaced them in 2008 with more than $350,000 in state funds. But East Baton Rouge Parish picks up the bill to keep them on.