Beginning Monday, a second ferry at the Plaquemine landing will be making the 15-minute trip across the Mississippi River during the peak evening rush hours to ease wait times for workers headed home.
“I’m delighted about it, I’m glad that it’s coming,” Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso said, adding that the ultimate solution to traffic headaches on La. 1 and the Interstate 10 Mississippi River bridge will be a second bridge over the river one day.
“Whatever the power within that made it happen, I’m grateful,” Ourso said of the addition.
The second ferry will supplement the work of the original ferry that operates throughout the day, said Dustin Annison, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation and Development.
Both ferries will travel between Plaquemine on the west bank of the river to Sunshine on the east bank of the river at La. 75, which is about 15 minutes south of Baton Rouge.
The hours of the original ferry have been shortened slightly in the late evening and on weekend mornings, so that adding a second ferry won’t impact the department’s budget, Annison said.
The cost to run the Plaquemine ferries is about $3 million annually, he said.
The charge for drivers to ride the ferry is $1 per round trip per vehicle. Those fees cover a small portion of operating expenses, Annison said.
Beginning Monday when the second ferry goes into service, hours for the original, all-day ferry will be 4:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The second ferry will run from 3:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Each ferry carries 30 vehicles at a time. With four trips in an hour, the second ferry will mean an additional 120 vehicles making the crossing every hour.
“It’ll help the people who ride the ferry get across a little faster,” Annison said.
The second ferry, already docked in Plaquemine, was formerly used at the ferry crossing between Edgard and Reserve, both in St. John the Baptist Parish, Annison said. That crossing was closed several years ago, he said.
Drivers can call DOTD’s toll-free ferry information line at (888) 613-3779 for the status of the ferries or check online at dotd.la.gov and click on “modes of travel,” then the link for ferries.
Drivers can also get updates on the ferries through Twitter by visiting twitter.com/PlaquemineFerry.