Walt Handelsman’s May 5 cartoon about New Orleans infrastructure certainly hits the nail on the head. We are, as usual, ignoring the needs upon which the survival of the city rests, and instead looking to build a glitzy new hotel. New Orleans is drowning or flooding or both because we can’t get minimal functionality out of the Sewerage & Water Board.

Look at the broken pipe that flooded South Claiborne Avenue, a major traffic artery in New Orleans.

What is the response of the S&WB? “Those pipes are 113 years old.” And that is precisely the point. The pipes are 113 years old, and officials knew it. But do they have a plan to systematically replace all the 100-year old pipes in the city? Have they given any thought to an ongoing maintenance program? Did they replace some of the mains when all of the major streets were ripped up throughout Uptown and the work would have cost less?

The answer is no, they did not. They are going to want to come back later and rip the streets up again so that we, the taxpayers, can pay for it twice. No wonder our taxes are as high as they are.

Next, they are going to complain about cost and how they need an increase in water fees.

State House passes 3 bills to advance New Orleans infrastructure deal

Then there is the issue of streets. I can say from firsthand experience that Mexico has far superior streets compared to ours. You have to go to the poorest Third World country to find streets as deplorable as those commonly found in New Orleans. And in our showcase neighborhood, the Garden District, they are the worst in the city. Recently, I overheard one tourist remark to another that they couldn’t even ride their Blue Bikes on Camp Street. This is not good.

It is not the money, it is leadership, or should I say the lack of leadership. All our leaders worry about is increasing tourist revenue, so hey, let’s build a glitzy new hotel. It never occurs to them to maintain what we have.

If the mayor and the city council don’t do something to remedy these problems soon, they may increase tourism, but the citizens who live here are going to move to a place with decent infrastructure.

Jim Grice

retired building contractor

New Orleans