A fund that pays for the maintenance of landscaping and streetlights along the 13-mile Crescent City Connection corridor grew from $5.8 million to $6.3 million between May 2013 and June 2014. As a result, the fund shouldn’t be exhausted until 2019, a district engineer administrator for Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development told the Jefferson Parish Council last week.
Previous estimates had suggested the fund could be depleted earlier.
DOTD engineer Chris Morvant said the special Crescent City Transition Fund spent about $1.2 million in the first 14 months after it was created in May 2013.
Set up after voters defeated a proposed extension of tolls on the Crescent City Connection bridge over the Mississippi River, the fund pays for additional mowing, landscaping, trash pickup, street sweeping and lights maintenance along a stretch of highway beginning in front of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and encompassing the elevated expressway on Jefferson Parish’s West Bank.
The fund, however, received about $1.7 million in additional money during the same period. An amnesty program in which motorists paid any outstanding $1 tolls but were forgiven for a $25 administrative fee yielded some $102,000, Morvant said. Another $1.6 million or so came from unclaimed toll-tag balances, giving the transition fund a balance of $6.3 million at the conclusion of the fiscal year ending in June .
As a result, DOTD now expects the fund to last another four years or so, Morvant said.
Meanwhile, he told the council Wednesday, a $7.1 million project to rehabilitate aspects of the Harvey Canal Bridge on the West Bank Expressway is on track to be completed by December. And a $13.6 million project to rehabilitate the Harvey Canal Tunnel under the expressway should get going in November and be completed 18 to 24 months later, he added.
Council President Chris Roberts asked Morvant whether the estimated price tag for the tunnel project is large enough to keep the dimly lit, 58-year-old structure from looking “like it belongs in a Third World country.”
The engineer replied, “We hope that it will. It’ll definitely clean the tunnel. We’ll have much better lighting than we do now. ... That’s one of the things that makes it look like it does now — the lighting.”
Roberts noted that the 2015 state legislative session begins next month and that would be the time for lawmakers representing Jefferson Parish to explore options for finding more money for the tunnel project, if it is needed.
Launched in August , the Harvey Canal Bridge project called for the structure to be painted, to have its mechanical and electrical systems rehabilitated, and to have its traffic gates and signals replaced. It also called for the replacement of the bridge’s grid deck and pedestrian railing as well as other structural repairs.
The bridge runs over the heavily used Harvey Canal.
The Harvey Tunnel project, among other things, will involve the replacement of lighting, drainage pumps and grates, and the repair of tiles. It also calls for the installation of a fire-alarm system, closed-circuit television cameras and a system to detect over-height vehicles.
The tunnel runs under the canal.