New Orleans will begin construction on more than 40 street projects in 2016 at a total cost of $200 million, city officials said Tuesday. Construction on another $379 million in Sewerage & Water Board capital improvements also will begin next year.
The plans were touted in Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s year-end infrastructure recap, in which Landrieu and other officials outlined 2015 achievements and next year’s expectations.
During 2015, the city has plugged more than 77,000 potholes, repaired more than 9,000 streetlights and completed 55 roadway projects totaling $81 million, said S&WB Executive Director Cedric Grant, who also oversees all infrastructure projects for the Landrieu administration.
The pothole figure is the highest for any year since Landrieu took office in 2010.
The 40 roadway projects scheduled for 2016 include 12 projects in the city’s FEMA-funded Recovery Roads program, which repairs Katrina-caused damage on and beneath streets; three projects in the Paths to Progress program, another roadway improvement program for Orleans and Jefferson parishes; six other roadway projects; and two streetscape projects.
Work will begin on projects in the Filmore, Lakeview, Lower 9th Ward, Mid-City, St. Bernard and West End neighborhoods.
Included in the $379 million in S&WB projects are two elevated water towers that, when completed, will surge water into the system during power outages and prevent a loss of water pressure. In July, such a water pressure drop at the city’s Carrollton water plant caused a 31-hour boil-water advisory for the entire east bank.
Also early next year, Delgado Community College will begin training would-be S&WB employees through a $1.5 million GE Foundation grant, officials said.
Landrieu again seized the chance Tuesday to point up the city’s recently announced $1.2 billion FEMA settlement, intended to rebuild minor streets and mend storm-damaged pipes over the next half-dozen years.
The settlement comes on top of about $800 million FEMA has provided for street repairs in recent years. That $2 billion, along with previous FEMA money received since Hurricane Katrina and revenue from a 2012 S&WB rate hike, is expected to cover about a third of the estimated $9.3 billion it will cost to completely revamp New Orleans’ streets. A working group has been tasked with crafting a long-term plan to pay for the rest.
The mayor called the settlement “a major down payment to repair our city’s aging infrastructure.”
The FEMA settlement is aimed largely at fixing underground pipes damaged by Katrina’s floodwaters. Because repairing the pipes means ripping up and then repairing the roads above them, the city is getting revamped streets out of the deal.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.