Ferry startup delayed a month

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 6, 2010



LAPLACE – New signs are posted and the access roads are paved, but the return of the Reserve/Edgard ferry may still be about a month away, State Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday.

DOTD spokesman Dustin Annison said electrical issues on the vessel destined for St. John the Baptist Parish are causing the newest setback to keeping the boat out of the waters of the Mississippi River.

“The crew is still working out a few issues on that boat,” Annison said. “The one-month delay is our best estimate, but we are hoping it will be sooner than that.”

Annison said DOTD had been sending a boat and full crew to the St. John site, but it has since been moved while work is being done in the disabled boat. He said that ferry has been sent to ferry landings in White Castle and Plaquemines as needed.

“It’s just a matter of equipment now,” Annison said. “We have enough personnel to run it, we just need a boat to be there full time.”

The electrical delay is the latest in a long line of setbacks hindering the 17-car ferry’s return after being docked since 2007 while the Army Corps of Engineers made repairs to the landing site.

Upon completion of those repairs, which called for the repositioning of a utility pole off the levee’s slope, the parish was caught in a legal struggle with the Archdiocese of New Orleans over access to land near the river batture that is owned by St. John the Baptist Church in Edgard. The court battle stretched out more than a year before the church relented and allowed the parish to use the land to place the pole.

The return was delayed again when water levels in the Mississippi River prevented work on installation of the pole. The utility pole was put in place and connected to the electrical grid in May, according to Entergy.

Once the pole was back in place, transportation officials said the ferry reopening would again have to be pushed back because access roads to the east and west bank landings had to be completely resurfaced. That work began in July and wrapped up in late August.

Once the ferry finally returns, Annison said round-trip tolls for the ferry service — $1 for cars, 25 cents for pedestrians — would remain the same. He also said the ferry would run on the same schedule it had in the past — 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.