Ferry farewell

October 19, 2009 at 8:54 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

It used to be a relaxing interlude as we parked our car on the Luling-Destrehan ferry, got out and leaned over the railing to survey the flowing waters of the great Mississippi River. Now we only whiz over it at 60 mph on the Hale Boggs Bridge which was almost the first of its kind.

Ferries are becoming a lost breed of transportation. Now they are being replaced by bridges, some of them spectacular, others very modest.

Due to budget shortfalls, the state wants to close most of the remaining ferries in Louisiana. They are costly to operate and are serving fewer people than ever.

The only river ferry nowadays in the Tri-Parish area, from Edgard to Reserve, is among the seven operated by the state that remain. But it has been closed for two years due to ferry repairs and a land dispute over the batture where it docks.

The state Department of Transportation and Development has recommended that it be closed permanently along with three others. The three ferries in New Orleans, which carry heavy loads of foot traffic would remain open. After all, the Canal Street-Gretna ferry was jam-packed this past weekend during the Gretna Heritage Festival when boats had to be added to transport the huge crowds.

It is estimated that tolls would have to be increased to $25 per car to make the country ferries self-sufficient. And we suspect that with such a charge, most would-be passengers might find a way to cross the nearby Veterans Memorial Bridge nearby the Edgard-Reserve route.

Our memories of waiting in line for the ferry to arrive and then waiting while we float from shore to shore will last forever. But there are other ways of having such relaxing interludes.

And they are much cheaper. The state should save that money.

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