Mayor Landrieu Announces Working Group to Address City’s Long-Term Infrastructure Needs

NEW ORLEANS – December 01, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined City leaders, residents and subject matter experts to announce a working group to help find solutions to the City of New Orleans’ long-term infrastructure needs. Established by Executive Order by Mayor Landrieu, the Fix My Streets Financing Working Group has been charged with developing recommendations about how the City can pay for interior street repairs.

“Upon taking office, I committed to the citizens of New Orleans that we would not just rebuild our city, but that we would build a city for the ages,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “From budget meetings to the Fix My Streets campaign, we have heard from our residents loud and clear that street repairs are one of their top priorities. Repairing and improving our city’s aging infrastructure is absolutely essential to New Orleans’ long-term growth and success. While we have made great progress over the last five years, more must be done. In order for us to build for our future, we must work smarter and develop creative solutions to finance street repairs. That is why today I am announcing the creation of the Fix My Streets Financing Working Group to come up with recommendations on how we can pay for interior street repairs moving forward. This group of subject matter experts have expertise in civil engineering, business, construction, finance, banking, transportation and community engagement. By combining our resources and getting a plan, we have an opportunity to build a stronger, more resilient New Orleans.”

The Executive Order charges the Fix My Street Financing Working Group with the following:

  • To review all estimates for replacements and repair of all streets and subsurface utilities in New Orleans;
  • To review all current funding sources for street and subsurface utility repairs in New Orleans;
  • To review the pavement condition survey completed by the City of New Orleans that will be used for street prioritization;
  • To review strategies that parties are currently using to inform the public about construction progress and timelines, as well as future construction;
  • To review information about national best practices for financing infrastructure repair and recommendations that other organizations may submit to the Working Group;
  • To review the planning processes, policies and implementation strategies undertaken by the various agencies fixing streets and subsurface utilities;
  • To assess the affordability of the various options for financing infrastructure repairs; and
  • To make final recommendations to the Mayor and the City Council regarding a long-term strategic financing plan for infrastructure repairs—particularly streets and subsurface utilities- in Orleans Parish.

The Fix My Streets Financing Working Group is comprised of members with expertise in finance, business, construction, engineering, transportation and civic engagement. Appointments to the working group include:

  • Chair, Dr. Norma Jean Mattei, President-elect, American Society of Civil Engineers, former Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New Orleans
  • Hon. Nadine Ramsey, Councilmember District C, Chair of New Orleans City Council Public Works, Sanitation & Environment Committee
  • Hon. Jason R. Williams, Councilmember-At-Large, City of New Orleans
  • Walter Brooks, Executive Director, New Orleans Regional Planning Commission
  • Shawn Wilson, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
  • Robert Lupo, CEO, Lupo Enterprises, real estate developer, founder of Fix My Streets campaign
  • Todd James, Principal, Mathes Brierre Architects, board member, Young Leadership Council
  • Henry F. “Freddy” Yoder, Jr., retired President & Chief Operating Officer, Durr Heavy Construction, Fix My Streets campaign
  • Eric Songy, President, Bocage Neighborhood Association, Fix My Streets campaign
  • Barbara Woolfolk, Past President, Villa Sites Neighborhood Association
  • James  R. Amdal, Director, UNO Transportation Institute
  • Wayne Neveu, Special Counsel, Foley Judell,  National Association of Bond Lawyers
  • Damon Burns, CEO, Munivestor

Cedric Grant, Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB), Mark Jernigan, Director of the City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and Dani Galloway of the Integrated Infrastructure team will attend meetings for presentations and informational purposes.

This working group will meet several times beginning this December through February 2016. Preliminary recommendations will be made in time for the State’s regular legislative session local bill filing deadlines should any legislation be needed. Additional meetings may be required throughout the year.

CITY’S LONG-TERM INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, about one-third of City streets were rated in fair or worse condition and even more streets are in worse condition today. From past research and reports from groups like the Bureau of Governmental Research, the City estimates that an additional $9.3 billion is needed over the next twenty to thirty years to completely reconstruct the City’s streets and subsurface infrastructure, as well as to maintain streets in fair or better condition.

To completely reconstruct one mile of roads – including subsurface infrastructure like water, sewer and drainage pipes – costs about $7 million or about $450,000 per block. With 1,547 miles of City-owned roads, the City would need $350 million a year for 20 years to repair every street in New Orleans.

The Fix My Streets Financing Working Group will examine creative solutions to finance the repair of New Orleans interior streets.

PROGRESS UNDER MAYOR LANDRIEU

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the City completed $16 million in roadway capital improvements and $2-3 million in roadway maintenance in a typical year. Following Hurricane Katrina, the City has completed on average $34 million in roadway capital improvements and $1-2.5 million in roadway repairs.

Today, there is more roadwork now any time in recent history. After taking office in May 2010, Mayor Landrieu hit the reset button on the City’s negotiations with the federal government on Hurricane Katrina-related damage. Since then, the City has met with FEMA over 825 times producing $946.7 million more in new funding to rebuild and repair public facilities and streets. So far, the City has completed 247 road projects totaling $342 million and resulting in 111 miles of new roads. Right now, there is over $150 million of road construction either in design or under construction across New Orleans. This infrastructure work includes FEMA-funded Recovery Roads, Community Development Block Grant funding and City bond funded projects. In 2015, the City is on track to complete over 40 road projects valued at $80 million, representing over four-times the amount of infrastructure work performed by the City annually, on average, prior to Hurricane Katrina.

S&WB is currently implementing a $3.3 billion capital improvement program comprised of over 600 projects that will create 25,000 construction jobs across the city. Through the rate increase approved by New Orleans City Council in 2012, bond rating upgrades for sewer and water, and the recent bond sale, S&WB’s capital improvement program is funded for the first time in 25 years. This work is being paired with the City’s $1 billion recovery program combining to create one of the largest infrastructure improvement efforts in the history of New Orleans.

In summer 2014, the City and S&WB entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement to establish an Integrated Infrastructure Management System to coordinate all infrastructure projects and repairs to ensure that they are performed properly and in a timely manner. Now, all capital improvement and infrastructure projects are fully coordinated as City and S&WB personnel coordinate jointly on projects including construction, acquisition, improvement, maintenance, and promotion of any public improvement or project, specifically including activities related to public utilities, sewerage, flood control, drainage, and streets.

In spring 2015, the City launched a new online tool to track the progress of roadwork projects and infrastructure improvements across the city. The roadwork.nola.gov external link website shows ongoing coordination on road construction by the City’s Department of Public Work (DPW), Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Damage Reduction Project (SELA), and Regional Transit Authority (RTA). The City updates projects monthly, providing residents with the most accurate view of infrastructure improvements occurring across New Orleans. The project is a collaboration between DPW and S&WB under the City’s Integrated Infrastructure Management System.

In addition, the City has filled over 200,000 potholes since 2010. In 2015, the City committed over $2.5 million to street maintenance. This is an increase of over $800,000 from 2014. This year, the City has filled nearly 68,000 potholes, more than any year since Mayor Landrieu took office.

The Landrieu Administration is in final negotiations with FEMA on a lump sum payment to repair and improve the City’s streets and subsurface infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Katrina. In spring 2016, New Orleans voters will be asked to renew a millage that will free up to $80-100 million more for street repairs over the next three years.

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