Pieces falling into place for ferry return

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 15, 2014

By Richard Meek
Contributing Writer

LAPLACE – Plans appear to be moving forward on resuming operations of the Edgard/Reserve ferry, although when the anchor is pulled remains uncertain.

During a council meeting Tuesday night, St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom said a Request for Proposals was advertised Jan. 29 and will continue for 30 days. Parish officials will then review the bids before selecting an operator.

She said three firms have expressed an interest in the operation of the ferry and have been sent the RFPs.

“I could not give a timetable,” she replied to a question about a possible resumption date. “The (ferry) company might have to ramp up with new personnel.”

She said a right-of-way agreement with the Archdiocese of New Orleans has been reached regarding the west bank landing,

and negotiations are continuing with land owners for a similar agreement for the east bank landing. Additionally, an agreement has been signed with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for use of the ferry and barge.

She did not disclose any financial terms, and subsequent efforts to contact Robottom’s office were unsuccessful.

Robottom said she is meeting with legislators to discuss a potential long-term solution. Once service is resumed, it will operate for one calendar year while officials evaluate ridership, cost and other factors. The service will be funded by a CBDG grant and Hurricane Isaac funds.

“What we have is short term, but it will give us an idea of the cost of running the ferry,” she said.

The ferry has been docked since July 31 when the DODT stopped funding the ferry, citing budget cutbacks.

“This is not a west bank thing,” council member Lucien Gauff said. “This is a parish thing. It’s for all of us.”