Sen. John Alario, R-Westwego, said last week that he wants to know why the Department of Transportation and Development needs $3.5 million to hire a consultant to "develop a plan for closing the Crescent City Connection" and to assist in staffing and other operations "until the tolls expire." Alario said he did not know how the financing was added to House Bill 1, the state budget bill. He said the need for a $3.5 million contract to start the process of winding down toll collections -- if that is what lawmakers decide to do -- seems excessive. The amendment was approved by the Senate Finance Committee last week. "I want to know more about it," said Alario, who missed a day or two of meetings due to illness. Alario said he has asked department officials to appear before the Senate Finance Committee on Sunday at 2 p.m. to explain the budget amendment. The full Senate is expected to debate the state's operating budget later in the day.