The Young Leadership Council (YLC) is urging the state to keep the decorative lights on the Crescent City Connection (CCC) turned on, no matter what happens to the bridge's controversial tolls. With the expiration of the tolls set for the end of this year, the bridge could go dark.

  The YLC first established itself as a civic force in the 1980s when it led the campaign to light up the bridge. That campaign was the group's first major capital fundraising effort. "In exchange, there was an understanding that the state would fund all aspects of the decorative lighting on the CCC," the group said in an email blast last week. "All of this occurred before tolls were in place, and thus the position of the YLC is that the decorative lights should remain on irrespective of the tolls."

  Tolls were placed on the bridge several years after the bridge acquired lights, and revenues from toll collections became (and remain) the primary but not exclusive funding source for the bridge lights.

  "Many great cities in the world have an iconic structure in their skylines. Paris has the Eiffel Tower. New York has the Statue of Liberty. San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge," says Chris Johnsen, who served as YLC president during the bridge-lighting campaign. "As young people looking to make a positive impact on the perception of New Orleans both locally and nationally, we are committed to lighting the bridge." — Clancy DuBos