N.O. Council said research needed before voting on duck boats

May 28 2013 | Latest News
May 28, 2013

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans City Council transportation committee decided Tuesday there were still too many unanswered questions when it comes to the duck boat tours, delaying any vote on the matter until a later date.

After nearly two hours of listening to those who were for and against the duck boat tours, committee members said they wanted to seek legal advice before moving forward with the idea.

Duck boat tours already are common in Boston and Seattle. The New Orleans version would go from the Toulouse Street loading dock, onto the interstate and eventually enter Lake Pontchartrain from the Bonnabel boat launch.

Committee members also have questions about the safety, route and noise concerning the tour boats. City Council members said 19 people have been killed on boats like these since 1999.

Opponents echoed some of the same concerns, complaining the boats will add to the traffic issues and bring more noise to the French Quarter. But the New Orleans Steamboat Company, which wants to bring the boats to New Orleans, said there will be 12 tours at most per day and argued they are quieter than sanitation trucks.

Supporters, meanwhile, feel it will bring attention and business to the Lakefront area.

“The proposed open-air tour buses have amplified music where guests are encouraged to join sing-alongs and are given duck quacker noise makers,” one opponent argued. “The character of the tour further degrades the French Quarter.

A supporter, on the other hand, said “Not only does this attraction provide unique education opportunities for our visitors, but it is the only tour of its kind that showcases one of the region’s largest assets –Lake Pontchartrain. Tourists would be given a chance to explore both Orleans and Jefferson parishes through duck tours.”

Council members said they will hold another public meeting before making a final decision on whether or not to bring the duck tours to New Orleans.