Earlier today the election to continue the tolls on the Crescent City Connection was thrown out and a new election was set for May 4th (May the Fourth be with you). The reason given was that provisional ballots that were given to voters only contained federal candidates and did not allow for those voters to cast ballots on the toll issue. Whoever was responsible for those provisional ballots needs to be reprimanded because this, on top of our recent water issues in the City of New Orleans, is helping to prove that we are just a third world city.
But while the ballot integrity may make the re-vote a necessity, it is not the reason why I am happy the re-vote will happen. See, back during the election I made this post about the Crescent City Connection toll election. I made some claims about how traffic conditions on the bridge would become worse without the tolls. I witnessed some of this first hand after hurricane Issac. However, it was not really possible for me to prove it. We couldn’t have asked for a “dry run” so the voters could see what a toll free bridge would be like. Now that we will have two whole months without tolls, the drivers on the Westbank who commute to New Orleans every morning will witness what happens to their commute first hand. If I am wrong then great, the tolls will go away and I will admit that I am wrong. However, if I am right…. if the traffic becomes more congested without the regulating impact of the tolls to help ease the flow from 12 lanes to 4 and if there are more accidents because people are travelling at higher rates of speed as their cars are required to merge down to 4 lanes then the people of the Westbank will see what I have been saying all along and will realize the 40 cents of tolls they pay each day to travel to work will be worth the shortened commute time they are given by having well regulated traffic going through the toll booths.
Mike Teachworth of Stop The Tolls is happy that the Westbank voters will get another chance to stop these “unfair tolls”. Well, I personally do not consider the tolls to be unfair because I also believe that people who use a bridge should be the ones who pay for the maintenance of the bridge. But I think Mr. Teachworth will also be sadly mistaken when more and more Westbank traffic goers learn just how badly the traffic can get when the tolls are gone.
And what I found the most amusing today was that previously Paul Connick had suggested that the toll collections in the afternoon were causing a backup of Eastbank bound traffic. Well, the tolls were gone today and the backup was just as bad as ever. Perhaps that backup could be blamed on, oh… I don’t know… the SUN IN THEIR EYES? Nah, that couldn’t be it…
Update: People seem to think that two days of traffic is proof that I am wrong with my fears about how the traffic may have issues. It obviously is not. And I may very well be wrong about the traffic and if I am I will definitely admit it. However, the biggest concern is the people merging from 12 lanes to 4 at a faster rate of speed than they were doing so previously. This, to me, would obviously be less safe. Does that mean more accidents will happen every day? Obviously not. However, I do believe that in heavy traffic times we will see an uptick in accidents that take place over the next 8 weeks. And again, if I am wrong I will admit it. I am just asking the anti-toll folks to also have an open mind and look at the data we are able to collect because of this ruling.