POSTED: Sunday, June 2, 2013 - 8:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 11:58am
WHITE CASTLE, LA (NBC33) — Drivers who depend on the White Castle Ferry to go to work will soon have to drive miles out of their way to get around the river. Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development officials plan to permanently close the White Castle Ferry on June 28.
Dustin Annison, a DOTD spokesman, said it's costing the $1.3 million a year to run the ferry. Annison said the ferry does not "provide state or regional transportation connectivity and are primarily local transit services. " While officials work with other state agencies to help give drivers more options, those who depend on the ferry say the state shouldn't touch their ferry services.
"It's very important. I have been crossing this ferry for about 30 something years. We have more than the people from Iberville Parish that cross here," Achille Young, White Castle resident and White Castle Ferry user, explained.
Every morning Young uses the ferry to cut his commute down to four miles. Now he'll have to get up earlier and spend more time trying to get to work.
"Real bad because it's 85 miles round trip for me," Young said.
He is not alone.
Dennis Dugas lives in Pierre Part, but he uses the White Castle Ferry to get to work across the river. He'll have to shell out double the money for gas, and spend double the amount of time trying to get to work once the ferry closes.
"Right now I can say 40 miles round trip; where as if I have to go the Sunshine Bridge it's forty miles one way," Dugas explained. "So, then it's 80 miles round trip."
The other option for drivers is the Plaquemine ferry.
"We leave here and drive to Plaquemine. We still might not catch the ferry. The ferry is very over loaded in Plaquemine, very over loaded," Young described.
In statement Annison said, "In the past few years, the state, with legislative approval, has begun to implement the Streamlining Commission's recommendations to close ferries that do not fit within the state's transportation mission. The state closed the St. Francisville and Melville ferries which saved Louisiana taxpayers approximately $2.7 million. "
Drivers who depend on the White Castle Ferry say there is no reasonable alternative. They just want to keep their ferry service going.
"They are taking the ferry away, and I am not getting anything in return," Dugas said. "I'm still paying the same amount of taxes to keep things going. There taking it away and I'm not getting any reduction in any of my taxes. What's the deal? Why do I have to suffer for this?"
DOTD officials also plan on shutting down the Edgard/Reserve. They say the state will save around $3.5 million a year by closing both the Edgard/Reserve and White Castle ferries.
Operations will continue as normal until the date of closure. The ferry operates from 4:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.