Small ferry to stay in St. John

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 15, 1998

By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / June 15, 1998

LAPLACE – Commuters who use the ferry between Reserve and Edgard got the word at the St. John the Baptist Parish Council Tuesday night thatstate officials have no plans to bring in a larger ferry.

Karl Finch of the Department of Transportation and Development said instead that an option is for a combination of local and state authorities to get together to pave a parking lot on the batture near the ferry landing.

State officials would then provide a van to transport commuters across the river via either the ferry or the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Gramercy.

The state is also planning to bring in a spare ferry to run when the current boat, the Feliciana, is down for repairs.

Finch said the current ferry is able to handle commuter traffic but that the problem is with court traffic, particularly when juries are called to serve.

Employees of the clerk of court office pointed out that trials are sometimes delayed because juries, judges and witnesses have to wait to cross the river. They also pointed out that many residents need to crossthe river for such services as the welfare office, clerk of court and other offices people need to see every day.

Bernie Slicker of LaPlace said a bigger boat is needed to help economic development on the west bank.

“It is not going to happen on the west bank with the current situation,” Slicker said. “If we are going to grow in this area, it is going to be on thewest bank.”Finch pointed out that the department does not have unlimited equipment and that it is trying to solve ferry problems throughout the state.

“What happens three to five years in the future, the situation may require a bigger boat,” Finch said. “Right now, we are doing all we can to helptraffic problems throughout the state.”Councilman Richard Wolfe said the battle for a bigger boat is not over with and invited the state officials back when members of the parish’s legislative caucus can be in attendance.

“We are not going to let this rest,” Wolfe said. “Whoever came up with theidea of a van needs to turn that light off. They need to turn it off becauseit will not work. We need you back here because this business is notfinished.”

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