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Phantom tollbooths 

Judge's ruling halts tolls on CCC

  Crescent City Connection workers waved drivers through the West Bank tollbooths last week after a state judge voided results of the Nov. 6 toll-extension referendum. Baton Rouge Judge William Morvant suspended toll collections after he nullified the referendum, which passed by a mere 36 votes. Toll opponents argued that more than 1,000 provisional ballots — which only included federal elections on the ballot that day — disenfranchised citizens who wanted to vote on the toll issue.

  Friends of the Ferry President Fay Faron, among a group of West Bank neighborhood organizations supporting the toll extension, said the organization will continue to support the tolls.

  "It is bad enough that we have to go to Baton Rouge and beg for funding, but if we have to compete with the bridge for funding, I fear the outcome," she said. "Rather than call for a full election, I think it would be fairer to investigate why those provisional ballot voters were turned away, and if they were registered to vote in that precinct and denied, only they would revote rather than ordering 350,000 people back to the polls."

  Rachel Heiligman, executive director of transit advocacy group Ride New Orleans (formerly Transport for NOLA), said the organization is "disappointed that procedural errors appear to have undermined the integrity of the election."

  "With a $12 billion backlog, the (Louisiana Department of Transportation) does not have the funds necessary to operate and maintain the Crescent City Connection," she said. "The tolls provide a dedicated revenue source to ensure that our critical Mississippi River crossing does not fall into a state of disrepair."

  A new election on the tolls is scheduled for May 4. — Alex Woodward

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