Introduction of Highway 1 toll booth a traffic nightmare

DOTD promises improvements

The quickly eroding marsh in between Leeville and Fourchon has warranted a toll-funded mega-bridge replacing the old, sinking Louisiana Highway 1. This past weekend was the first that Department of Transportation and Development finally implemented its automated toll payment Machines (ATPM) at the on-ramp to the new La. 1.

This was intended to help ease the process of paying the toll by not forcing motorists to leave their vehicles. In short, it was a disaster.Mile-long traffic lines built up against the noise of confusion at the toll gantry. The new system had weekenders waiting for 30 minutes or more.

According to a DOTD press release, the department has been trying different toll-lane configurations to allow for toll tag users to travel more freely through the toll gantry. But some who waited in line had another solution.

“Put a few real life people to work and be done with it!” wrote user “Keaker.”

Though manual toll collection is not a permanent option, it will still be utilized during peak traffic times.

“We are planning on having manual cash collection as a short-term impromptu solution,” Rhett Desselle said after being asked what was being done to improve the situation. “There is definitely a learning curve in getting acclimated to this new system. With the proxy kiosks before, we were losing a lot of toll payments due mostly to out-of-stater’s not being ticketed or not paying their tickets.

“We have an obligation to improve our toll collection to pay back the loans and bonds used to build the new bridge. It is an extremely expensive project and will eventually stretch all the way to Golden Meadow. State resources alone were not enough.”

DOTD also advised anyone planning to go to Grand Isle over the summer to get a GeauxPass, which allows for crossing the gantry at normal speed and should reduce the line at the toll gate.

Some tips to help get through the toll gantry quicker during peak traffic times include:

• Have your cash or credit/debit card ready before you reach the ATPM.
• Take time to approach the ATPM so your vehicle is within arm’s reach.
• Using a credit card or debt card reduces the transaction time in half.
• From the advance signs, determine your vehicle’s toll classification before you reach the ATPM.
• First select your vehicle type and remember to Press OK before inserting your cash or credit/debit card.
• Use the minimum number of bills for payment to reduce transaction time.

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