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Deal may save Reserve/Edgard ferry

LAPLACE – The third day of visits to the State Capitol may prove to be the charm for St. John the Baptist Parish officials in their effort to save the Reserve/Edgard ferry.

Despite earlier visits by local officials and residents and testimony before the Senate Transportation and Senate Finance committees, news of the demise of the ferry circulated throughout the parish. With time running out, Parish President Natalie Robottom and Councilman Lennix Madere spent their Saturday in the Senate Chamber and the halls of the Capitol with senators, representatives of the Department of Transportation and Development and the governor’s staff trying to resolve the ongoing funding issue for their ferry.

An amended version of Senate Concurrent Resolution 105 by Sen. Troy Brown was approved late Friday, but the resolution carried little weight and no funding to continue the Reserve/Edgard ferry past June 30. Sens. Brown and Gary Smith continued to work on future funding options but grappled with both time and the funding constraints typical of a budget showdown. The situation remained gloomy for supporters of the ferry as HB1 moved through the Senate with no dollars for the ferry.

But a chance encounter with the governor’s chief of staff and commissioner of the Division of Administration provided a simple but plausible opportunity for St. John Parish to work with the DOTD and the Office of Community Development on a plan to continue ferry services through a joint agreement.

The details of this plan have not been finalized, but seem promising and will be completed over the next few weeks to avoid interrupting ferry services at the end of June. According to the parish, the plan will be released once finalized.