Sunday, May 6, 2012

Let's put the toll renewal issue to a public vote

As a former CCC Task Force member and president of Friends of the Ferry, I say it is time we all listened to Rep. Pat Connick and “Do what the people want.”

Rep. Connick has said: “Our pockets are empty.”  And he is right. The DOTD’s pockets are empty.  Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, Robert Adley has said that one of his roads has turned to gravel and one of his bridges shut down because the State couldn’t afford to fix it.  And this was before the Transportation Trust Fund budget was cut by $26 million. And not only are the DOTD’s pockets empty but the mayors of New Orleans and Gretna have both stated they have no funds for bridge lighting nor police to patrol the structure.

Rep. Connick has said: “It’s not fair.”  And he is right. It is not fair that the rest of the State should be expected to share dwindling DOTD dollars when the commuters on the fifth busiest toll bridge in the nation can so easily collectively pay a “user’s fee” to fund maintenance, painting, ferries, lighting, landscaping and a dedicated police force for a mere 40 cents per roundtrip.

Rep. Connick has said “The CCCD has been mismanaged and corrupt.”  Although Rep. Connick has not announced filing any charges of corruption against the Division, the mismanagement charge has proved valid.  And while most would cite Rep. Connick as the legislator who spearheaded cleaning up the CCCD, what most don’t know is that it was my research, beginning two years earlier (in 2006) which I gave then-Speaker of the House, Jim Tucker that resulted in the Legislative Audit and the subsequent “retirement” of top CCCD management.

In the last three years, the DOTD has continued to implement procedures which ensure our toll dollars are used wisely. And with the CCCD due to be abolished in December and this dedicated revenue stream placed directly under Regional Planning, we can be reasonably optimistic that mismanagement and/or corruption is a thing of the past. 

Rep. Connick has said, “Let the people vote.”  As a member of the CCC Task Force summoned to his “Public Hearing,” on January 31st, I heard this first hand.  After nearly three hours of what amounted to a public lynching, Rep. Connick called for a show of hands to abolish the tolls. When the count was nearly unanimous, Connick demanded that the Task Force change our pro-toll vote of 7 to 1 and instead “Do what the people want.”

When I pointed out that a meeting in Algiers had produced exactly the opposite results, I was called a “bitch” and my neighbors dismissed as “ferry lovers.” 

Rep. Connick has said, "I will support extending the tolls."  Just two days later, (Feb 2nd) Connick wrote in an email to Task Force member Glenn Orgeron,

If the task force joins me and formally request (sic) that the FBI investigate the insurance deal, investigate the construction of the admin building, investigate the ferry expenses associated with the CCCD,  I will support your recommendation to extend the tolls.”

But of course, Task Force had found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. The Task Force was formed to study “best practices” going forward, not examine criminal corruption that might have occurred in the past.  To ask this of us was like expecting an English major could just as easily write their dissertation on calculus. We were not chosen for our forensic abilities but as leaders in the business and civic communities. 

In an email later that day, Connick made an additional demand:

“…I left out an important part of the compromise -  as part of the dea,l (sic) Sen (sic) Heitmeier and Rep. Arnold would have to also join in.”

By demanding the unobtainable, Connick was essentially holding our region's infrastructure hostage with no realistic condition that could be met for its release. This is how he can so easily explain away the email to his constituents as a “bluff.”

But Rep. Connick is right.  We SHOULD, "Do what the people want.”  When Mike Teachworth’s “No Tolls” petition at was pulled after less than a week, it had 8 signatures in contrast to Transport for NOLA’s 866 to keep the tolls. (There are now 1,143 online signatures.) When Rep. Connick presented HB 992 to the House Transportation Committee on May 1st, he boasted of collecting 150 signatures to stop the tolls. With the second petition you will find in your mailbox on Monday, our “keep the tolls” paper signatures total 4,600.  

So yes, let’s do what the people want.  Let’s take that vote in November. And if Rep. Connick opposes the amendment, then the only explanation is that he knows he has not been speaking for ALL "the people."

Fay Faron

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SPECIAL: Open letter to local legislators

Dear Local Legislators,

My name is Fay Faron and I am president of Friends of the Ferry and a former CCCD Task Force member, one of seven who voted to recommend renewing the tolls on the Crescent City Connection Bridge.  I am writing on behalf of the non-sign-waving public who feel the same. 

As I am sure you know, the Task Force studied every aspect of this issue and contributed hundreds of hours, individually and collectively, to thoroughly explore if the bridge could, in fact, operate effectively should the budget drop from $27 million to zero. Sadly, the Times Picayune has never reported on WHY we came to the conclusion that the modest toll we pay was the best option for ensuring a vibrant quality of life for both the Eastbank and Westbank going forward into the future.

Most of us realized early on that the TP reporter, Paul Rioux had an obvious agenda as the focus of his articles was always whether we had the right to consider a toll option rather than report what “essential services” were at risk from losing this reliable funding source. Services like:

  • A dedicated police force to remove debris and accidents and keep traffic moving
  • Three ferries that keep 2.9 million users off a bridge that was already operating to capacity
  • The iconic lighting that defines the New Orleans skyline, as well as street lighting beneath the bridge
  • Grass-cutting, landscaping and litter pickup which the DOTD says they will abbreviate severely or eliminate entirely so our services are in line with what they maintain on other bridges
  • Bridge maintenance for which the CCC Bridge would then have to compete with the state’s other 13,000 bridges and 16,000 miles of roadway via the Highway Priority Program
  • Bonding capabilities which we would lose because we would have no dedicated revenue stream
  • Federal funding which we would lose because we would be (1) unable to come up with matching funds and (2) we have refused to toll ourselves, the Feds have no inclination to fund our projects
  • $5 million in dedicated funding via Highway Trust Fund #2 which would, without bonding, irrevocably return to the State.
Even after the Task Force report came out on February 1st, the Times Picayune never reported on our findings.  Never have they informed the public of the issues above. Their censoring of information has caused much of the public to come to the only logical conclusion: That they have nothing to lose – and a whopping forty cents to gain. After leading their readers down this path, our local legislators had little choice but to “do what the people want” - even though privately most have said that losing the tolls would be a disaster for our region. 

As you know, right now, legislators are attempting to plug up the holes left by this enormous loss of revenue.  One bill that particularly troubles me concerns the privatization of the ferries.

On the surface, it seems like a good thing that the DOTD is offering 16M for new ferries and $4M in subsidies to attract a private company to take over the ferries.  But the devil is in the details.  The deal is actually for the Chalmette ferry ONLY - with the “opportunity” to take over Algiers and Gretna.  These figures were not generated via any business plan and there is no evidence they are realistic to attract privatization. Should these arbitrary figures make it into law, and a private company who has actually done a business plan determine they cannot make a profit, they will simply pass.  And our historic ferries will be history.

The leaders of our region have agreed that tolls are essential for maintaining the services we have come to expect, both on the bridge and the ferries. That is why virtually ALL of Greater New Orleans’ civic and business organizations support the Task Force’s recommendation to renew the tolls:

  • New Orleans Chamber of Commerce
  • Jefferson Business Council
  • Greater New Orleans, Inc.
  • Transport for NOLA
  • Harvey Canal Industrial Association
  • Jefferson Chamber of Commerce
  • Algiers Neighborhood Presidents Council
  • Algiers Economic Development Foundation
  • Plaquemines Assn. of Business and Industry
  • St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce
  • Algiers Point Association
  • Crescent City Connection Oversight Authority
  • Friends of the Ferry
Add to this list, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Gretna Mayor Ronnie Harris, NOLA City Councilwoman-at-large Jackie Clarkson and City Councilwoman Kristin Palmer.

Toll supporters might not be waving signs for the cameras but I do believe we make up the “silent majority.”  I have seen our members go from dedicated and determined to feeling increasingly defeated as our leaders pass on this hot potato issue.  Still, because we believe the loss of this dedicated revenue source to be so dire for our quality of life, we continue to fight – even as the clock in the Capital ticks on.

But I can assure you, if you will file a bill to renew the tolls, we are prepared to mobilize behind you. Here is our proposed course of action.

  1. The Task force is available and anxious to share our findings before the Transportation Committee
  2. We are setting up an online petition supporting the tolls. Our goal is 2500 signatures, starting with our newest partner, Transport for Nola’s 1500 members
  3. Those individuals will then participate in a “push the button” email campaign to flood legislators statewide with letters of support for the tolls
  4. When the bill comes for a vote, we have over 150 citizens committed to going to Baton Rouge to support the bill 
I realize the Governor is a huge factor in this issue but Governor Jindal has said publicly this is a “local issue.”  We intend to hold him to that.  And, of course, it is certainly in the rest of the states’ best interest to not have to share in financing the nation’s fifth busiest toll bridge. 

Please step up and be our heroes.  We are asking you to make sure we have a bill asking for toll renewal and to do all you can to ensure it passes. If you will do that for us, I can assure you “the public” will back you up on numbers that will put the sign-wavers to shame.

Fay Faron
Friends of the Ferry
Former Task Force member

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Traffic will increase significantly

Bridge already at capacity

In 2008, the average traffic flow on the Crescent City Connection was recorded at 180,000 to 190,000 vehicles per day. Bridge capacity is 7200 vehicles per hour. Anything over that results in what we commonly call “backup.”  Backup is already reached every weekday during commute hours.

There are 2.9 million users of the three ferries each year, 1.2 million at Canal Street alone. If the Canal Street ferry does not attract privatization, the DOTD has declared they will cease service. Those riders will have no other option across the river except to take the bridge.  When Federal City reaches occupancy in 2013, many of those 11,000 workers will become bridge commuters as well. Between the two factors, it is estimated as many as 8,000 vehicles might join the weekday commute over the Crescent City Connection.

Onramp Closures

Contrary to popular belief, it is the funneling of twelve lanes into four that creates the bottleneck, not the toll booths. In fact, the toll plazas actually meter traffic allowing for a safer merge. Engineers say that for a safe merge, there should be no more than three lanes of traffic funneling into one if the toll plazas were to be removed. The only way to accomplish this is to shut down lanes and close onramps.

These are some of the options DOTD engineers put before the Task Force.

  • Jefferson Parish traffic on the Westbank Expressway would go from 5 lanes to 2
  • Terry Parkway would be restricted to one lane
  • General DeGaulle would be restricted from 3 lanes to 1
  • Additional onramps would be would be metered or closed during peak hours
In all scenarios, engineers determined lines would be longer and drive times increased.

Reduction in officers from 25 to two  

Currently the Bridge Police employs 25 officers who work 24 hours per day, seven days per week. They patrol over 13 miles of bridge as well as the ferries and their terminals. 

In 2010, the Bridge Police

  • responded to over 28,000 service calls
  • investigated 1542 crashes
  • issued 8,200 citations and 2799 warnings
  • removed 5009 disabled vehicles
  • made 631 arrests, 82 of which were for DWIs. 

A 2001 Louisiana State Police study concluded it would be “difficult for the jurisdictions, either individually or collectively, to maintain the service provided by the CCCPD.”   

On February 23, 2012, the DOTD informed local officials that two State Troopers would be assigned to the Bridge – but only at peak drive times.  And if they were needed elsewhere, they would be redirected.  Because of state budget cuts, the LSP withdrew their request for funding and announced there will be no cadet class held this fiscal year.  

As for the local jurisdictions, both New Orleans and Gretna city officials have declared they cannot assign officers to the bridge.  In fact, the NOPD is currently down 200 officers and has 20 patrol cars out of service because there is no budget to fix them.  In addition, with New Orleans having the 13th highest crime rate in the nation, NOLA Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer has stated she cannot, in good conscience, assign officers to patrol the bridge.

What will it cost to save 40 cents?

  • National studies show that every 10 minutes of delay results in 40 minutes of backup traffic. 
  • At current gas prices, every 17 minutes of engine idling eats up $.40 worth of gas
If a $10 per hour wage-earner was docked for being 30 minutes late to work, between the two factors, it would cost them $5.75.  But, of course, they would save the price of the toll tag: $.40.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Special: Open letter to the Times Picayune

Andrea Shaw
Westbank Bureau Chief
Times Picayune 

Dear Andrea, 

            I am sorry but I was hoping for something more than your statement to former Task Force member Glenn Orgeron that you will "continue to write about both sides of the argument" regarding the toll renewal issue.  I was hoping, after you read the report - as you indicated you might do - that the Times Picayune would fairly present both sides of the argument.   

            First, let's establish that the Times Picayune has, in fact, taken an anti-toll position. For this I point to a webcast on posted on Thursday, February 23, 2012, 3:04 PM where you and Paul Rioux were interviewed for On Politics.  (Click on "On Poitics" to hear webcast.) Here are some of the phrases used: 

·        "The good news is that they expire at the end of the year," (by the commentator)
·        "Most Westbank residents want them to expire."
·        Those that don't want the tolls to expire are "primarily representing business groups" and wondering "how much they might lobby to renew the tolls."
·        "Sadly there is a contingent that feels that you have to renew the tolls."  

            First, several of these statements are not even true. When you say, "most Westbank residents," you seem to have forgotten those who belong to citizens' groups like the Algiers Point Association, Friends of the Ferry and the Algiers Neighborhood Presidents Council. All have come out in support of the tolls.  If you are referring to Rep. Pat Connick's "Public Hearing" which was held the day before the report became public, not only had no one read it, one man shouted, "I ain't reading no damn report!"   

           I think it would be more accurate to say, "Those who have read the report support the tolls and those who have not, do not."

            As for the statement, "primarily business groups," I would you assume you were referring to those represented on the Task Force: Jefferson Business Council, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.), Harvey Canal Industrial Association, Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, Algiers Economic Development Foundation, Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce and Westbank Redevelopment Corporation, Inc. 

            To that list you can also add: New Orleans City Council, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Gretna Mayor Ronnie Harris, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Old Main Street Algiers and Transport for NOLA.  It would have been far more accurate to say, "Virtually EVERY organization in the Greater New Orleans area supports the tolls."  That, in fact, is the truth.

            Here are five examples of how the TP's opinion has spilled over into its "news" articles.

            1.  Why was the Task Force not interviewed for this webcast?  Is it not routine journalistic integrity to present both sides of the story?  When a newspaper censors the information the public receives, they virtually craft public opinion to reach the same conclusion they have.

            2. The DOTD's meeting before local officials: Your  Feb. 24th article, State presents post-toll plan for Crescent City Connection, states, "Briefed Friday on the state's plan for maintaining the Crescent City Connection after tolls expire at the end of the year, about two dozen local officials generally responded favorably…"

            I was not at this meeting but heard about it from Gretna Mayor Ronnie Harris, NOLA Councilwoman-at-large, Jackie Clarkson and NOLA Councilwoman Kristen Palmer.  All used virtually the same phrase, "What meeting was he at?  Because he sure wasn't at the meeting I was at."  (In fact, this is a refrain I heard often from my fellow Task Force members.)

            In fact, most did NOT "respond favorably." It was a heated discussion and virtually everyone there made it clear they could not AND WOULD NOT pick up the expenses of lighting, grass-cutting, etc. In fact, the headline should have been, "The bridge will go dark!"  The subheading could have been, "But don't worry, you won't be able to see it over the grass."  

            3. The "transition to a toll-free bridge" debate: While many TP articles were accurate when analyzed sentence by sentence, oftentimes ninety percent of the article represented ten percent of the meeting, giving the public a skewed sense of the real issues. 

            This was especially true in the early articles where the Task Force discussed whether we were to consider tolls as a possible funding source.  On at least three occasions, although this topic took perhaps 20 minutes out of a three hour meeting, it was the sole focus of the article.  The rest of the meeting was informational, discussing such issues as how the DOTD would not provide "essential services" like  bridge lighting, regular grass-cutting and maintenance.  Most troubling was that now the CCC Bridge would have to compete with 13,000 other bridges and 16,000 miles of roadway for scarce Transportation Trust Funds.  AND THERE WAS ALREADY A SEVEN YEAR WAITING LIST ON THE HIGHWAY PRIORITY PROGRAM.   

            That should have been the headline! This is news!  These are the issues!  In fact, these meetings occurred before we even discussed funding sources. Yet the only issue the paper deemed important - even after four legal opinions and the inability of Rep. (and attorney) Pat Connick to find anyone to give us a counter opinion - was whether we should be looking at any option other than letting the tolls expire. 

            But the loss of essential services was not the story Paul Rioux wanted to tell. It was as if we being shamed into forming a predetermined conclusion: That the tolls must go.   

            4. The Task Force Speaks Before New Orleans City Council Transportation Committee: Although this meeting was announced in the Times Picayune,  it was not deemed worthy to cover.  For the first time the public heard, in depth, the reasons the Task Force was recommending renewing the tolls.  Both Jackie Clarkson and Kristin Palmer were obviously pro-toll as was EVERYONE in attendance with the exception of Janet Hower from the Bureau of Governmental Research who was there defending her own report.  Yet this meeting was not deemed important enough for the TP to cover?    

            5.  The Task Force Report has never been reported on.  I think that speaks for itself. Although the Task Force met twice a month for seven months and the whole purpose was to come up with real answers on how the bridge could survive effectively without tolls, when the culmination of all that work determined, "IT CAN'T," the reasons for these findings were never reported?   

            On Tuesday, March 20th, former Task Force member Pamela Lormand-Bialous and CCC Oversight Authority member Dr. Skip Gallagher appeared on Garland Robinette's radio show on WWL.  (Click on "Garland Robinette" to hear radio show.)  At least three times during the broadcast, Garland used phrases like, "I didn't know that,"  "I've never heard that before," and "I've learned a lot."  It was obvious that this smart guy, when he finally heard the facts, began to realize there might be benefit in continuing the tolls.                

               If, as was expressed in your webcast, "Most Westbank residents want the tolls to expire," then those folks have concluded that based upon the information they have been given. By the sole daily newspaper in New Orleans censoring the information the public receives, the Times Picayune has effectively ensured that their readers will come to the same conclusion they have: That the tolls must go.  

            That the Times Picayune formed this opinion WITHOUT READING THE TASK FORCE REPORT is especially egregious.

Fay Faron
President, Friends of the Ferry

Monday, March 19, 2012

We lose significant funding capabilities

Bridge and ferry expenses are classified in two categories: Operating expenses and capital improvements.  While capital improvements – building or repairing new or existing structures - can be financed by either tolls or one-time funds such as grants and bonds, operating expenses can only be funded through an ongoing revenue source like tolls. Grants and bonds are NEVER issued for operating expenses. 

Operational Funds
The majority of the Crescent City Connection’s operating budget comes from bridge tolls and Highway Trust Fund #2.

  • Bridge Tolls: $22M annually:  While much has been said that a significant amount of this revenue goes toward the collection of the tolls themselves, this just isn’t true.  In fact, this ongoing revenue stream – along with Highway Trust Fund #2 - finances a dedicated police force, three ferry routes, routine bridge maintenance, the bridge’s iconic lighting, street lights under the bridge, landscaping, grass-cutting, litter pickup, etc.  
  • Highway Trust Fund #2: $5.6 M +/- annually:  Vehicular licensing fees and gasoline taxes are collected statewide.  Only the six parishes surrounding Lake Pontchartrain – Orleans, Jefferson, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, Tangipahoa and St. Tammany - get to keep these taxes in their own separate fund and do not have to share with the rest of the state.  These funds are split evenly between the Causeway and the CCC bridges.  If tolls are not renewed, the CCCD’s half will revert to the DOTD.   And even if tolls are reinstated at a later date, one-fifth of our funding will be lost forever.

Capital Funds
A city either goes forward into the future or decays. It is a living thing that cannot exist frozen in time.  Unless infrastructure is not only maintained but improved, the region suffers not only economically but in an overall reduction in quality of life to its residents. There are two traditional funding sources for capital  improvements.

  • Bonds: With a dedicated revenue source such as tolls and Highway Trust Fund #2 comes the ability to obtain a “loan” of up to $150 M in one-time funds that can be used for capital projects. Without any significant incoming revenue, the ability to bond is lost.   
  • Federal Funding:  With a revenue source such as tolls, the CCCD can quality for up to 80 percent in matching federal grants. In fact, U.S. Transportation officials told local public officials that if we as a region refuse to toll ourselves, our federal funding capacity would be lost.

The Bottom Line
Money begets money. Without a reliable revenue stream, we simply can’t qualify for loans or grants. By allowing the tolls to expire, we are not just turning down our only source for an operating budget, we are eliminating the ability to fund projects like a Peters Road off ramp, a more viable HOV lane, and a more robust ferry system.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Lights Will Go Out

Imagine the hootin’ and hollerin’ the first toll-free day on the bridge.  The toll plazas are still up so twelve lanes of traffic are still metering into four without much change. By noon, the public is all atwitter that they were right, that the Crescent City Connection can operate just fine without tolls, thank you very much. 

But, in fact, the day after the tolls come off is going to look pretty much like the day before. For one thing, the fiscal year doesn’t end until June 30, 2013.  That is the soonest any services will stop.

Fast-forward six months

It’s the first day of July.  You’re coming home from work. Something is different. You’re almost to the bridge but you can’t see it. Then you’re on the bridge – except it’s as dark as a country road. What happened?

The bridge has gone dark, that’s what. Nobody mentioned this alarming side effect. But in fact, the bridge tolls paid for not just the iconic decorative lights on the span but the streetlights on the approaches and under the expressways as well. It’s dark. It’s scary. It’s definitely not safe.  Equally troubling, the brilliant span that defined the New Orleans skyline at nationally watched events - Mardi Gras, Superbowl, The Final Four, etc. - is no more.  Will everyone still know New Orleans is open for business?

Local government told to pick up the bill

The DOTD does not pay for lighting. They don’t do it on any of the other state bridges so it certainly wouldn’t be “fair if they did it for the Crescent City Connection. You can’t argue with that.

That is why the DOTD informed local officials they would be installing three sets of meters, each to cover the portion of the bridge that ran through their jurisdiction. Gretna, Orleans and Jefferson parishes would all be billed directly by Entergy.  All three called it an “unfunded mandate” they could not pay. 

But let’s face it, it would be a pretty un-savvy politician that didn’t consider that losing our city's iconic branding might cause some to rethink the brilliance of doing away with the tolls. Especially with Anderson Cooper covering the event like the implosion of a Las Vegas casino.

Enter “transition money”

Officially, transition money’s purpose is to continue funding until such time as another entity can pick up the cost. But, of course, transition money also masks the negative effect of an unwise political decision until those who proposed it are safely reelected or have moved on to another office.  

Although on February 29th, the Times Picayune reported that Marrero Rep. Patrick Connick intended to file a bill setting aside “70 percent of the estimated $9 million to $15 million in surplus toll revenue to pay for lighting and maintaining flower beds..." as of March 2nd - the last day to pre-file bills - he had not done so.

At $2.5 million per year for landscaping, grass-cutting and litter pickup and $800,000 more for bridge lighting, the one-time funds Rep Connick says he intends to tap would pay Entergy’s bill for another three to four years at most.  Should the bill not pass, the lights will go out  on schedule: July 1, 2013.

Either way, without tolls, within FOUR YEARS, the bridge will go dark.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why are we the only Mississippi River Bridge that pays tolls?

“It’s not fair!  The DOTD finances all the other bridges, why not the Crescent City Connection?" 

You want fair?  In fact, when tolls cease, the DOTD has promised to treat us just like they do the other 13,204 bridges and 16,666 miles of roadway they service. No better and no worse. In a word: fair.

To ensure the entire state is treated fairly, the DOTD uses the Highway Priority Program. Simply put, it determines which projects they fund first based on critical need. Even before Gov. Jindal cut the budget by $900 million, there were over 7 years of projects on the Highway Priority Program awaiting funding.  

But we DO pay a toll. And for that $.40, CCC drivers get 13 things the rest of the state does not.

  1. A dedicated police force that removes debris and accidents and keeps traffic moving
  2. Iconic lighting that defines the New Orleans skyline
  3. More frequent trash pick-up and grass-cutting.
  4. Landscaping which the DOTD does not provide at all
  5. Maintenance as needed verses having to compete with the rest of the state via the Highway Priority Program
  6. Painting as needed verses having to compete with the rest of the state for dwindling DOTD dollars
  7. A dedicated yearly revenue stream of over $22 million 
  8. Bonding capabilities created by that revenue stream which enables us to obtain over $150M in one time funds to finish much needed capital projects
  9. Matching funding capabilities
  10. Ability to obtain federal grants.for which we would be refused if we opted to discontinue tolling ourselves 
  11. The ability to finance the projects WE choose, including those not designated as state roads, which are the only projects the DOTD funds 
  12.  A ferry service that not only keeps 2.9M annual ferryboat users off the bridge but creates a greener and healthier option for commuters and tourists alike
  13. The ability to keep our area’s own vehicle registration revenue (approximately $5M annually) rather than having to share it with the rest of the state  
Do we really want "fair?"