The Young Leaders Council says they’ve unearthed a decades old document authenticating the state’s obligation to keep the Crescent City Connection decorative lights on.
Since the Department of Transportation and Development announced more than a week ago they are turning off the decorative lights, the search was on to locate an agreement signed four years before tolls were put in place.
According to YLC President Richard Pavlick the document outlines an agreement from 1989 that if the YLC pays for the decorative lights the DOTD will pay the electric bill, “It substantiates what our position has been all along that the state needs to pay the bill. Now I’m still looking at the particulars. We’re still reviewing them.”
“Up until today we have not been able to locate a copy. We received it from Representative Jeff Arnold today,” says Pavlick.
Pavlick says State Rep. Arnold told him an attorney involved with the original decorative lighting agreement back in 1989 gave it to Arnold.
The YLC is hoping this document signed twenty four years ago proves the DOTD is still responsible for paying the electric bill, tolls or no tolls.
The DOTD responded with the following statement via email, “Although void based on the exceptions listed in the agreement, there is a 1989 Act of Donation between DOTD and Bridge Lights, Inc. related to the decorative lighting on the bridge. The Act of Donation states that the obligation is effective for the useful life of the lighting system, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and completely replaced using toll funds in 2006. It further states that the agreement is only permissible under applicable state and local rules and regulations. Therefore, based on the state law, which prohibits DOTD funds from being used to pay for decorative lighting, the agreement is no longer applicable.”
For clarification, the DOTD spokeswoman provided the following link:
Pavlik says the 1989 agreement shows a positive example of how private business can partner with government.
Pavlik says he hopes the strong partnership will remain intact, “That (the agreement) changes the game in terms of what our options are moving forward since we now have a signed and executed copy. We can show this to the state and make them live up to their obligation to keep these lights on.”
Jefferson Parish President John Young says the Regional Planning Commission has called an emergency meeting to hammer out a plan to get the lights back on, “I haven’t seen it so I don’t want to comment on a document I haven’t seen. Having said that I can tell you everyone, the YLC, local governments, the Regional Planning Commission are working with the DOTD to put those decorative lights on.”
The YLC says they have offered to pay the electric bill until the May 5th toll election.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told WGNO last week a cooperative endeavor agreement needs to be drafted first.
Pavlick says the YLC raised $500,000 to pay for the decorative lights back in the 80’s.
He says the electric bill to light the bridge costs roughly $40 to $50 a day.